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Innovative Teaching Methods In The Civil Engineering Curriculum At The Pennsylvania State University

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.343.1 - 3.343.14



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Douglas G. Schmucker

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

Session 1675

Innovative Teaching Methods in the Civil Engineering Curriculum at The Pennsylvania State University

Douglas G. Schmucker The Pennsylvania State University


This paper describes several innovative teaching methods that the author has implemented in four courses in order to increase student involvement in the lessons. These methods include questioning techniques, physical demonstrations, team-oriented in-class exercises using toolkits developed by the author, and lesson presentation techniques. The methods have been significantly inspired by the T4E teaching model, which was developed at the USMA and at whose NSF-sponsored short course the author attended.

Student data both before and after the implementation are included along with faculty assessments. Comments from other assistant professors who have implemented various aspects of the model are also included as are the author's anecdotes. In the three semesters of implementation, the author has observed improved student performance as measured by written exams in addition to positive student and peer evaluations.

1. Introduction

One challenge faced by the author since entering the engineering education profession has been learning how to use the lesson time as a catalyst for student learning rather than simply a time of transmitting information. To help address this challenge, the author attended the one-week NSF- sponsored short course Teaching Teachers to Teach Engineering (T4E) held at the United States Military Academy1,2. The first year (Summer, 1996), the author was a participant; the second year (Summer, 1997), he was a consultant.

This paper describes several innovative teaching methods that include the T4E methods and those inspired by T4E. The general goal was to increase student involvement in the lesson with the underlying premise that along with increased involvement comes increased student learning. The specific objectives of the methods were to:

a) enhance understanding and comprehension, b) appeal to different learning styles, and c) create an engaging classroom environment.

The implementation of these methods at Penn State required the development of an extensive number of training aids, re-organization of course material, and extensive lesson preparation. Basic descriptions of the methods and training aids are provided here along with references for more details. Student response to the author's instructional approach is provided both before and after the implementation. The available data includes both university and instructor administered evaluation surveys. Comments from peer reviews are included in addition to those from other

Schmucker, D. G. (1998, June), Innovative Teaching Methods In The Civil Engineering Curriculum At The Pennsylvania State University Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7197

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