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Incorporating Technical Peer Review of Civil Engineering Student Projects

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

First-Year Activities and Peer Review Strategies in Civil Engineering

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.854.1 - 22.854.14



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Paper Authors


Luciana Barroso Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Luciana R. Barroso, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Structural Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering, in the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. She has been with Texas A&M University for more than 10 years, and in that time has taught over a dozen different courses ranging from the freshman to graduate levels. She has received funding for her engineering education research from the Department of Education FIPSE program and from the NSF CCLI program. She also has been involved in several professional developments that were provided by the NT-STEM Center to Texas ISD teachers. Her research interests include structural health monitoring and control, structural dynamics, earthquake engineering, and engineering education.

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James R. Morgan Texas A&M University

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Incorporating Technical Peer Review of Civil Engineering Student ProjectsActive and project-based learning (PBL) strategies provide a great means for students to enhancetheir learning and further develop critical engineering skills [1-6]. PBL provides complex tasksbased on challenging questions or problems that involve the students' problem solving, decisionmaking, investigative skills, and reflection. The activities are student centered and focus on real-world problems and issues, which further helps motivate students to learn. However, studentsstill struggle with making decisions between approaches and when not given exact proceduralsteps want the reassurance they are “doing the correct thing” to meet the project requirements[2, 7]. Higher-order thinking by students involves the transformation of information and ideas.This transformation occurs when students combine facts and ideas and synthesize, generalize,explain, hypothesize or arrive at some conclusion or interpretation. These skills are valuedbecause they better prepare students for the challenges of professional practice and daily life, aswell as for advanced academic work. Bloom’s revised taxonomy is a multi-tiered classificationsystem for learning that identifies six cognitive process categories in increasing complexity [8,9]. Research indicates that PBL can frequently and reliably get students to reach the Applyinglevel [10], student’s struggle with the Analyzing and Evaluating levels, and frequently do notreach the Creating level of the taxonomy.In order to address these issues, a technical peer review cycle was introduced into the projectcomponent of several junior and senior level courses. The goal of peer review is to improvestudent’s higher-order thinking skills, specifically critical thinking and metacognitive skills,through learning how to perform peer review of civil engineering products. Approximately half-way through the project completion, student teams are asked to review the work being done byanother student group and provide formative assessment that can be used to refine and improvethe work in progress. This approach is grounded in existing educational research into how peoplelearn [11], as well as the benefits of peer review on developing student writing abilities [12, 13].In this case, development of content knowledge is targeted in addition to increasing students’communication ability. The model follows a direct teach, then learn by doing, and finally, alearn by reviewing/teaching format.The outcomes of this process include:  enhanced motivation: to improve the quality of both the learning process and the ability to give (and receive) constructive feedback;  improved cognition and social outcomes in learning: to encourage deeper level or higher-order thinking, and to develop collaborative skills;  an increased sense of responsibility for one's own learning: to enhance ownership of the learning process and the constructed knowledge; and  improved metacognitive skills: to enable students to reflect more critically on their learning.In summary, this paper will present a model for classroom practice, which is based on the peerreview, tutoring, and teaching literature, to develop both knowledge and skills in students.Evidence of the effectiveness of this strategy also will be presented, including comparing studentperformance when peer review is utilized with the performance without peer review.Limited References[1] Bonwell, C.C., and J.A. Eison, "Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom, Washington, DC ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Reports, The George Washington University, 1991.[2] Capon, N., and D. Kuhn," What's so Good About Problem-Based Learning?," Cognition and Instruction Vol. 22, No. 1, 2004, pp. 61-79.[3] Daniels, M., and A. Hauer, "Balancing Scaffolding and Complexity in Open Ended Group Projects", ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Milwaukee, WI, 2007.[4] Kelly, K., Out of control: The new biology of machines, social systems, and the economic world, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1994.[5] Mathie, V.A., B. Beins, L.T. Benjamin, M.M. Ewing, C.C.I. Hall, B. Henderson, D.W. McAdam, and R.A. Smith, "Promoting active learning in psychology courses," Handbook for enhancing undergraduate education in psychology, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1993, pp. 183-214.[6] Wilson, B., and M. Ryder, "Dynamic Learning Communities: An Alternative to Designed Instructional Systems", Proceedings of Selected Research and Development Presentations at the 1996 National Convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Indianapolis, IN., 1996.[7] Blumenfeld, P.C., E. Soloway, R.W. Marx, J.S. Krajcik, M. Guzdial, and A. Palincsar," Motivating project-based learning: Sustaining the doing, supporting the learning," Educational Psychologist Vol. 26, No. 3-4, 1991, pp. 369-398.[8] Anderson, L.W., and D.R. Krathwohl, (Eds), A taxonomy for Learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives, New York, NY: Addison Wesley Longman, 2001.[9] Forehand, M., "Bloom's Taxonomy: Original and Revised", Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology, 2005, pp. 1-9.[10] Luckie, D.B., J.J. Maleszewski, S.D. Loznak, and M. Krha," Infusion of collaborative inquiry throughout a biology curriculum increases student learning: a four-year study of “Teams and Streams”," Advances in Physiology Education Vol. 287, 2004, pp. 199-209.[11] Bransford, J.D., A.L. Brown, and R.R. Cocking, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2000.[12] Carlson, P.A., and F.C. Berry, "Calibrated Peer Review and Assessing Learning Outcomes", Proceedings of 33rd Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, 2003, pp. F3E-1.[13] Cho, K., and C.D. Schunn," Scaffolded writing and rewriting in the discipline: A web- based reciprocal peer review system," Computers & Education Vol. 48, No. 3, 2007, pp. 409-426.

Barroso, L., & Morgan, J. R. (2011, June), Incorporating Technical Peer Review of Civil Engineering Student Projects Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18135

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