June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.394.1 - 15.394.15
Development and Evaluation of a Decision Model for Approval of Civil Engineering Independent Study Projects
Like most departments of engineering the Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy continuously strives to balance various factors when evaluating course offerings and instructor workloads. Independent study projects represent a significant strain on that balance. The Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering is currently in the midst of a considerable curriculum adjustment. One of the many benefits of this change is the move towards an increase in the number of Firstie (Senior) Year engineering electives. In an effort to reduce the demands on the faculty advising independent study projects and to encourage increased Cadet enrollment in engineering electives, the Department has chosen to reduce the number of independent study project offerings. It is the desire of the Department to develop and evaluate a decision model for judging prospective independent study projects. The focus of this document is the process of exploring, developing, and evaluating such a decision model.
The decision modeling literature has been reviewed and the use of a Multi-Criteria Decision approach has been selected. The Multi-Criteria Decision Model, more commonly known as a weighted decision matrix, gives the user a full spectrum of options to evaluate a decision. A decision matrix can accommodate changes in the input parameters over time. In addition, the engineering education literature has been reviewed and notably little evidence has been found of application of decision models for “go/no go” type evaluations of independent study projects. This study holds the generative promise of adding to the literature in this arena.
This document includes a review of the applicable educational and decision modeling literature. Further, the various stakeholders and parameters utilized in the development of our Multi- Criteria Decision Model are detailed herein. The process of evaluating the Model relative to multiple years of Department records of prior authorized independent study projects is described and associated statistics are reported. The results of this decision modeling development process are likely to be of interest to all engineering educators charged with the process of making curriculum decisions and particularly those decisions in which the influence of multiple stakeholders and parameters must be considered.
Although the exact date when independent study projects were introduced to the civil engineering curriculum at the United States Military Academy is unclear, various records 1,2,3 indicate that the practice has been in place for more than 35 years. In general, the nature of these independent study projects has been largely within one of three different classifications: service- based, competition-based, or research-based. The number of independent study projects offered and executed over the years has fluctuated as a result of such factors as Department enrollment, available faculty, and interests of the Cadets. Typically, there has never been a lack of “good ideas” brought forth for consideration and conversion into a formal independent study project. However, the process by which these ideas were evaluated and ultimately either rejected, tabled,
Barry, B., & Braun, J., & DeRocchi, M. (2010, June), Development And Evaluation Of A Decision Model For Approval Of Civil Engineering Independent Study Projects Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15847
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