Asee peer logo

“Green Projects to Pavements”: A Project-based Learning Approach to Introducing Sustainability to Civil Engineering Students

Download Paper |


2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Active Learning and Demonstrations in Materials Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1503.1 - 25.1503.17



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Adam J. Kardos University of Colorado, Denver


Stephan A. Durham University of Colorado, Denver

visit author page

Stephan A. Durham is an Associate Professor in the faculty of engineering in the area of civil engineering at the University of Georgia. Durham teaches and performs research in the area of civil engineering materials, concrete materials and structures, and sustainability. Durham obtained his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Arkansas. He was an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado, Denver, prior to joining the University of Georgia in 2012.

visit author page


Wesley E. Marshall University of Colorado, Denver

visit author page

Wesley Marshall is an Assistant Professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado, Denver, and Co-director of the Active Communities Transportation (ACT) research group. He focuses on transportation research dedicated to building a more sustainable infrastructure, particularly in terms of improving road safety, active transportation, and transit-oriented communities. Other recent research topics involve transportation planning, congestion pricing, human behaviors, parking, and street networks. A native of Watertown, Mass., Marshall is a recipient of the Dwight Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship and winner of the Charley V. Wootan Award for Outstanding TRB Paper.

visit author page

Download Paper |


“Green Projects to Pavements” A Project-Based Learning Approach to Introducing Sustainability to Civil Engineering StudentsMost individuals from birth on learn in an inductive manner (ie. learning from discoveryor observation, contrary to most styles of teaching used in the classroom today. Today’seducation system adheres to a deductive style in which instructors present thefundamentals that lead to application. In addition, the majority of engineering studentsare visual, sensing, and active learners where as, traditional delivery in engineeringacademia is auditory, passive, and sequential. This incompatibility in learning styles anddelivery methods may result in some students’ lack of interest in the course, decreasedperformance, and potentially a decrease in student retention. The objective of this studywas to evaluate the problem-based learning approach in introducing sustainability andconcrete design and placement in an effort to increase student learning. The goal of anyinstructor is to engage students and find more effective methods of teaching coursetopics. This study addresses these objectives and provides faculty teaching similarcourses at other institutions the necessary information needed to implement this program.Sustainability is a major topic that is being addressed by city, state, and nationalgovernments as well as globally. It is important for students to be introduced tosustainability as they will be the individuals forced to consider resource consumption,greenhouse gas emissions, and heat island effect. This Green Projects-to-Pavements program introduces the topic of sustainabilitywhile enhancing materials learning through a project-based learning approach. Thisprogram was implemented in the junior level civil engineering course Introduction toStructural Materials at the University of Colorado Denver. Students were provided aproject goal (design, test, and place a sustainable concrete pavement) and given access toresources that aided in their design of a sustainable concrete mixture. The instructoracted as a facilitator and advisor to the students as opposed to the instructor using adeductive approach and lecturing on the topic. This program introduces a learning stylethat is more compatible with typical engineering students (inductive, active, and sensory(visual and kinesthetic styles). Students were active in performing their own researchrather than being passive listeners in course lectures. In addition, the students mixed andtested concrete themselves which provided for a more “hands on” role in the learningprocess. Students experienced both visual and kinesthetic learning through seeing theconcrete mixed and tested as well as physically placing the concrete during theapplication phase of the study The performance of the students using this teaching style was assessed using twomethods. First, assessment was performed by comparing exam questions related tosustainability and design of concrete with previous course offerings. In addition, theproject final reports submitted by the students were reviewed by both the instructor aswell as industry professionals to assess the quality of the reports.

Kardos, A. J., & Durham, S. A., & Marshall, W. E. (2012, June), “Green Projects to Pavements”: A Project-based Learning Approach to Introducing Sustainability to Civil Engineering Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20774

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015