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Developing Knowledge Landscapes Through Project Based Learning

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Trend in Construction Engineering Education II

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.441.1 - 11.441.10



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Paper Authors

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Paul Chinowsky University of Colorado-Boulder

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Hyman Brown University of Colorado-Boulder

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

Developing Knowledge Landscapes Through Project-Based Learning Abstract

The traditional civil engineering-based approach to construction engineering and management education focuses significant attention on core subjects such as scheduling, estimating, and contracts. This paper introduces an alternative approach to this education based on the concepts of project-based learning. Through the introduction of courses developed by the authors, the paper provides a foundation for changing current education approaches from a lecture-based format to a project-based format. In this format, students are challenged with open-ended problems requiring greater application of multiple engineering concepts as well as requiring interaction with outside experts from within the construction industry and related professions. An outline for a project-based learning course is presented with experiences and lessons learned from four implementations of the course. Student responses are presented to indicate the potential benefits of such an approach. This finding is further supported by the introduction of the Knowledge Landscape concept for construction education that emphasizes greater use of context, scope and multiple intelligences in construction engineering education.


Engineering achievements accomplished throughout history are examples of individuals striving to solve problems that are often considered untenable at the time. These problems may encompass the achievement of great heights in structures, or the ability to span great divides with new bridge technology, or the ability to enhance transportation modes with multimodal transportation. In each scenario, it is the engineer with the vision to integrate conflicting demands into an elegant solution that is pivotal to the final outcome. The continued importance of this ability to integrate multiple demands is the basis for the position in this paper that engineering education is not addressing the needs of the modern society. Specifically, engineering specialization is overriding the need to provide new engineers with the breadth required to address the integration of demands that is a central part of engineering achievements1.

This focus on specialization is particularly significant in the construction engineering domain. Demands from clients, political bodies, government agencies, and numerous private constituents are each pushing the construction professional into a domain that is characterized by multiple, and often conflicting, goals that must be balanced and mediated to produce a completed project. However, the development of the knowledge to achieve this outcome is often given lower priority than the core of the civil engineering-based construction courses that focus on skills such as estimating, scheduling, and contracts. Project-based learning (PBL) presents one opportunity to reverse this trend and reintroduce breadth into the construction engineering curriculum. Adopted by educators in many domains, including a strong emphasis in medicine2, the concept of project-based learning is receiving increased attention within the construction domain3. This paper introduces a PBL course where students participate in real projects as a practical implementation of a Knowledge Landscapes-based education approach. As introduced by the authors and discussed below, Knowledge Landscapes emphasize a cognitive solution process

Chinowsky, P., & Brown, H. (2006, June), Developing Knowledge Landscapes Through Project Based Learning Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1356

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