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Geology for Civil and Environmental Engineers – Setting Priorities, Developing Desk Study Skills, and Case Study-Based Learning

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.640.1 - 24.640.11



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Paper Authors

author page

Kevin G. Sutterer Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Geology for Civil and Environmental Engineers – Setting Priorities, Developing Desk Study Skills, and Case Study-Based LearningAbstractThe American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Body of Knowledge recommends oneadditional area of natural science for civil engineers beyond physics or chemistry. Thisrecommendation is supported in the ABET criteria for civil engineering programs, whichrequires that civil engineering programs include at least one basic science other than chemistry orphysics in their curriculum. To satisfy these recommendations, it is common for baccalaureatecivil engineering programs to encourage or require courses in biology, ecology or geology. AtUniversity X, there are no geology faculty members on campus, so the civil engineering programhas developed an introduction to geology course taught by one of the geotechnical engineeringfaculty members. Noteworthy elements of the course include • Application of the backward design approach (Wiggins and McTighe, 1998) to setting course priorities for civil engineering students while assuring the course content is 100% science • Introduction to and application of the total geological history model approach to the anticipation, observation and understanding of site conditions (Fookes, et al. 2000) for civil engineering projects • Case study-focused learning to demonstrate application of basic concepts and processes to real engineering projects • Development of evaluation processes that align evaluation tools with the type of learning that is being evaluated (Wiggins and McTighe, 1998)These combined elements have resulted in a novel course well-suited to future civil engineers.The recent work of Fookes et al. (2000) to provide a new and systematic means for developmentof a preliminary engineering geological model for civil engineering projects is importantknowledge for civil engineers. The course has developed learning tools and case studies to assistin learning the use of this new process. These are summarized in the paper. The process that ledto definition of course content and evaluation is also summarized in the paper, including someinsights about setting priorities for aligning expected learning with the learning setting and howevaluation is completed. Higher level learning is a focus of classroom activities and case studywork, and lower level learning is designated for reading outside of class, memorization, and useof testing to evaluate knowledge.The course was taught three times by the current faculty member before the new format wasinitiated, and twice after the new format was initiated. Assessment of the effectiveness oflearning under the revised format is provided through review of course evaluations by studentsand faculty reflection on the findings. To date, the findings indicate students more frequentlyreport good comprehension of the application of geology to civil engineering, and the facultyhave observed improved development of geologic desk studies for capstone design. The paperalso includes recommendations for implementation of the course content by geology or civilengineering faculty members.Fookes P. G., Baynes F.J., and Hutchinson J.N., (2000), Total Geological History: A modelapproach to the anticipation, observation and understanding of site conditions, Invited Paper,Geoeng 2000 Conference , Melbourne Australia .Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (1998) Understanding by Design, Association for Supervision andCurriculum Development (ASCD), Alexandria, VA

Sutterer, K. G. (2014, June), Geology for Civil and Environmental Engineers – Setting Priorities, Developing Desk Study Skills, and Case Study-Based Learning Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20531

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