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Improving Listening, Teamwork, And Leadership Skills Through Innovative Civil Engineering Classrom Experiences

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.302.1 - 4.302.5

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Paper Authors

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Robert L. Green

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

Session 1615


Colonel Robert L. Green, PE Virginia Military Institute


Engineering students spend many hours in traditional lectures and laboratories. They spend many more hours solving traditional homework problems. All of which is very necessary to ensure that these students understand certain fundamental principles and to demonstrate that they can think!

The purpose of this paper is to share several classroom experiences for senior level engineering studies that address the "soft skills" of listening, teamwork and leadership.

Listening Skills

Most engineers have some form of engineering management responsibility. Published lists of skills important for the technical manager always include "communication" and all good definitions of communication include "listening." Listening is also one of the key characteristics of effective leaders. Bennett (1996) states that "Like most skills, good listening can be studied and learned. Americans tend to speak at about 150 words per minute; we are capable of listening to about 1000 words per minute. Is that 85% idle time spent in reviewing and assimilating what has been said, developing an argumentative rebuttal or brilliant reply, or thinking about an unrelated topic?"

It is also very important for engineering students to appreciate the impact of vocal expression and volume, posture, eye contact, and gestures on becoming a good listener.

The use of a role play exercise in the classroom can be an effective method for engineering students to study and learn to become effective listeners. The role play exercise can compliment classroom lectures by intentionally providing important factors such as urgency, anxiety, vagueness, inconsistencies in information, and a speaker’s mannerism. These factors can help prepare engineering students to meet the challenge of learning to become good listeners.

The major activities in a suggested process for such a classroom role play include the following:

Green, R. L. (1999, June), Improving Listening, Teamwork, And Leadership Skills Through Innovative Civil Engineering Classrom Experiences Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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