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Inquiry-Based Approach for Civil Engineering Students: A Case Study

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Innovative Pedagogy in Civil Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.760.1 - 23.760.11



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Paper Authors


Chuang Wang University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Dr. Chuang Wang, associate professor of Educational Research, is currently teaching educational research (both quantitative and qualitative) courses at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has served as an independent program evaluator for four federally funded research grants. Dr. Wang has published five books, seven book chapters, 60 journal articles, and over 50 paper presentations at national and international academic conferences. He won the 2008 Distinguished Paper Award at American Educational Research Association annual conference and the 2009 Excellence in Research Award at UNC Charlotte.

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Kimberly A Warren University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Dr. Kimberly Warren is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who specializes in the field of Geotechnical Engineering. She holds her Civil Engineering degrees from Virginia Tech and North Carolina State Universities. Her disciplinary research interests involve the use of geosynthetic materials (polymeric materials) incorporated into civil engineering structures including roadways and earth retaining structures. Most of her work involves the instrumentation and long term monitoring of heavily instrumented structures. Due to her strong passion for teaching, Dr. Warren pursued educational research opportunities in recent years and was awarded an NSF TUES grant, which she is currently finishing up with hopes of continuing her work in this area. Dr. Warren was awarded a UNC Charlotte College of Engineering teaching award for her dedication to teaching.

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Assessment of a Model to Enhance Communication Skills of Civil Engineering Students This study aims to assess a pedagogy model to enhance thecommunication between instructor and students in a required geotechnicalengineering course within a Civil Engineering curriculum at a U.S. highereducation institution. The model (based on Bloom’s Taxonomy) focuses onstudent-centered learning activities and interactive models. The instructor usesinformation-gap activities during the lecture so that there is a constantcommunication between the instructor and students. The sample includes 84undergraduate students (13 female and 71 male), of whom 27 participated in theinterviews. Students’ cognitive levels (i.e., knowledge, comprehension, application,analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) were assessed with pre- and post-surveys. Aseparate survey was used to assess students’ self-regulated learning skillsdeveloped following the self-regulation theory (Bandura, 1997; Zimmerman,2000) as Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy changed the terms of the six cognitivelevels into actions: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating,and creating (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001). These actions or strategies fall intothe theory of self-regulation. To measure the comprehension and retention offundamental geotechnical concepts, short quizzes, model tests, and a finalcomprehensive exam were employed. Interviews were also conducted withrandomly selected students during the course (at the end of each of the fourcarefully designed content modules) to solicit feedback from students and seekfeedback for improvement. An external evaluator administered the studentinterviews and conducted independent classroom observations during each of thefour content modules.Quantitative data were analyzed with descriptive and inferential statistics (pairedsample t-test, repeated measured multivariate analysis of variance, and multipleregressions). Qualitative data from interviews and classroom observations wereanalyzed with thematic analyses based on grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss,1967). In summary, students gained significantly in their knowledge and skills bytaking this course when comparing the pretest to the final exam. Studentperformances on the final exam (long-term retention) were statisticallysignificantly different from their performances on the tests at the end of eachmodule. Results from the multiple linear regression analysis suggested thatstudent attendance and performances on the tests at the end of each contentmodule are significant predictors of their performance on the final exam. Thispaper will provide a brief literature review and summarize the results from thisstudy.

Wang, C., & Warren, K. A. (2013, June), Inquiry-Based Approach for Civil Engineering Students: A Case Study Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19774

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