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Civil Engineering Courses Taught With Individualized Student Assignments

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Educational Issues in Civil Engineering

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.323.1 - 14.323.11



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Paper Authors

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Ahmet Zeytinci University of the District of Columbia

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Philip Brach University of the District of Columbia

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



One of the problems confronting the present day instructor is that of students cheating. While it is reasonably possible to control student interaction on quizzes and exams taken in class, it is not easy to prevent students from doing other assignments collaboratively. While it is important and encouraged that students work together, reinforcing their individual strengths, it is equally important that they do not simply copy each other’s work.

Modern technologies available for use in instruction, such as computers, spreadsheets and math software such as MATLAB, have made it possible to individualize assignments for each student. To accomplish this task prior to current technology was extremely time consuming. These modern tools of technology have made it possible to accomplish individualized problem assignments, quizzes and exams with optimum time and effort on the part of instructor.

Examples of individualized (custom made for each student) problems for civil engineering courses such as structural analysis, foundation design, and mechanics of solids will be presented. A generic guide illustrating a technique to assist the instructor in preparing individualized assignments for virtually any course utilizing formulas and relationships is included.

Comparing Data from Different Years

Objective (quantitative) comparison of student performance in courses from different years presented a challenge. Each course had different students; the common base was the instructor and the course material. The characteristic that changed in the before and after courses was the introduction of individual assignments in the after sections. To attempt to compare student and class performance in this situation, the authors developed an index system to assign a numerical value to individual student performance in a course and an index to quantify the overall performance of all students in the course. It is proffered that the overall index may be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new instructional strategy (individual student assignments). The use of these two indices normalizes the fact that each course has different students, with different individual capabilities

Capability and Effectiveness Indices

The Capability Index (CI) is a measure of a student’s personal performance as demonstrated by the relationship between the grade point (GP) they achieve in a course and their cumulative grade point average (CGPA) at the same time (CI=GP/CGPA). The cumulative GPA at the end of the course was used as a reasonable quantitative overall measure of a student’s demonstrated capability at that point in time and because it is a readily determined value. The CI is strictly an index related to an individual student. If a student is consistently a straight “A” student or a straight “C” student then his or her CI will be 1.000. However the index will show relative improvement for a student not a straight “A” student or a decline in relative performance for a straight “A” student who fails to maintain straight “A’s”.

Zeytinci, A., & Brach, P. (2009, June), Civil Engineering Courses Taught With Individualized Student Assignments Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5319

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