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Effective Use Of The Highway Capacity Manual And Software In Teaching Physical Elements Of Transportation Engineering

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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

Innovation in the Civil Engineering Classroom

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.517.1 - 14.517.7



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Paper Authors

author page

Yusuf Mehta Rowan University

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

Effective use of Highway Capacity Manual in Teaching Physical Elements of Transportation Engineering .


In this paper, the effective way of explaining concepts of design and analysis of physical elements of transportation engineering, such as signalized intersection, two-way multi-lane highway, two-stop control, all-way stop control, ramps, weaving lanes, roundabout using the Highway Capacity Manual and the software is explained. The instructor teaches this course every alternate spring semester to the seniors and graduate students as part of the advanced transportation elective. The instructor reinforces the concepts by requiring students to solve the problems in the Highway Capacity Manual and solving the same problems with highway capacity software. Then, as part of the homework, the students, in group of three, solve the problems manually and then follow-up with solving the problem with Highway Capacity software. After each topic is completed, a design project obtained from a local reputed consulting firm is assigned to each group. The students then make a short presentation of their design to the class (15-20 min) with the consultants from the firm serving as clients. This pedagogical technique adopted for each of the physical elements of transportation provides the necessary depth to enhance the understanding of the development of the design procedure. The graduate students have to do a presentation and a paper on contemporary topics and the student performance measurement metrics, the student assessment, and the course evaluations are presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of this technique.

Problem-Based-Learning (PBL) As the label implies, problem-based learning is an educational approach where an ill-structured problem initiates learning. PBL is necessarily interdisciplinary: by addressing real-world problems, students are required to cross the traditional disciplinary boundaries in their quest to solve the problem. One of the primary features of Problem-Based Learning is that it is student- centered. “Student-centered” refers to learning opportunities that are relevant to the students, the goals of which are at least partly determined by the students themselves1. This does not mean that the teacher abdicates her authority for making judgments regarding what might be important for students to learn; rather, this feature places partial and explicit responsibility on the students’ shoulders for their own learning. Creating assignments and activities that require student input presumably also increases the likelihood of students being motivated to learn.

A common criticism of student-centered learning is that students, as novices, cannot be expected to know what might be important for them to learn, especially in a subject to which they appear to have no prior exposure. The literature on novice-expert learning does not entirely dispute this assertion; rather, it does emphasize that our students come to us, not as the proverbial blank slates, but as individuals whose prior learning can greatly impact their current learning2. Often they have greater content and skill knowledge than we (and they) would expect. In any case, whether their prior learning is correct is not the issue. Whatever the state of their prior learning, it can both aid and hinder their attempts to learn new information. It is therefore imperative that instructors have some sense of what intellectual currency the students bring with them. The context for learning in PBL is highly context-specific. It serves to teach content by presenting

Mehta, Y. (2009, June), Effective Use Of The Highway Capacity Manual And Software In Teaching Physical Elements Of Transportation Engineering Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4659

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