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Innovative Techniques To Teach Transportation Engineering

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Civil Engineering in the Classroom

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.772.1 - 11.772.8



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Paper Authors


Yusuf Mehta Rowan University

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Dr. Mehta is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rowan University. Dr. Mehta has extensive experience in teaching transportation engineering, pavement materials and pavement systems. Dr. Mehta has published several technical and educational papers in leading professional organizations.

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

Innovative Techniques to Teach Transportation Engineering .


The transportation engineering is taught in the junior year as a required course for all civil engineering (CE) students. The course provides an introduction to various aspects of transportation engineering. The course, which is traditionally a lecture course, was redesigned to ensure that every student actively participates and understands the physical elements of transportation design. Throughout the course, the faculty conducted a simulating and engaging exercise of requiring students to solve practical problems during class in teams of two immediately after covering the relevant theory. The practical problems were assigned before any example problems were solved in the class. During the class, the faculty was available to answer any questions they may have. At the end, after following through the solution in class, the correct solution was distributed. This allowed them to see how they thought through the problem and also had a correct solution on file for future reference. The students had to assimilate the information provided and translate it to the problem at-hand. This activity initially frustrated the students because they are traditionally used to following example problems. However, this exercise forced them to take the theoretical concepts and directly apply them to transportation engineering analysis and design problems. Such an activity considerably increased the level of interest and provided a greater satisfaction of tackling the problem, rather than just following set example problems. The global learners remained engaged as they could visualize the relevance of the theory being taught in class, and the more sequential learners after the initial struggle followed the problems through the explanation in class and the solution provided at the end of class. For example, the faculty would explain the vertical curves and then immediately following the theory of vertical curves they had to design the curve according to typical constraints in the field. Individual short quizzes were assigned to ensure that they read and followed the material. All exams were take home team-based exams to be submitted within 48 to 72 hours, in which the team-members could discuss their effort as they presented their solutions to complex design and analysis problems. This paper presents the course outline with a week-by-week breakdown of activities and the typical handouts. The student evaluations reflected that enthusiasm and are also presented in the paper.

Problem-Based-Learning As the label implies, problem-based learning is an educational approach where an ill-structured problem initiates learning. PBL is necessarily interdisciplinary: By addressing real-world problems, students are required to cross the traditional disciplinary boundaries in their quest to solve the problem. One of the primary features of Problem-Based Learning is that it is student- centered. “Student-centered” refers to learning opportunities that are relevant to the students, the goals of which are at least partly determined by the students themselves (Gallow De, 2006). This does not mean that the teacher abdicates her authority for making judgments regarding what might be important for students to learn; rather, this feature places partial and explicit responsibility on the students’ shoulders for their own learning. Creating assignments and activities that require student input presumably also increases the likelihood of students being motivated to learn.

Mehta, Y. (2006, June), Innovative Techniques To Teach Transportation Engineering Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--118

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