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Interactive Learning Using A Tablet Pc In Civil Engineering Soil Mechanics

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Use of Technology to Provide Civil Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.783.1 - 13.783.15



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Paper Authors

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Kevin Sutterer Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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shannon sexton Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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

Interactive Learning Using a Tablet PC in Civil Engineering SOIL MECHANICS Kevin Sutterer, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and Shannon Sexton, Director of Assessment Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


The authors are part of an initiative at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to explore opportunities for the use of tablet PCs equipped with appropriate software as interactive learning devices. Appropriate use of technology is a guiding principle for learning through the ASCE ExCEEd model. As a learning tool, the chalkboard offers a broad range of advantages for facilitating learning in a variety of ways. Even so, technology offers opportunities to develop interactive learning tools that can broaden learning activities in the classroom. As a strong proponent of chalkboard-facilitated learning, the author had joined the tablet research team as a skeptic collaborator.

The first author used tablet PCs as the instructor to facilitate nearly all classroom learning in junior-year, civil engineering SOIL MECHANICS course. The instructor and students used pen- based tablets with collaborative note taking software in class to manage lectures, discussions, example problems, classroom learning assessments, practice problems, and spreadsheet-based problem-solving tools. Assessment of learning is being conducted on four levels: (1) assessments of the students’ attitudes about using the technology and their learning; (2) independent, institute-level assessment at the beginning, middle, and end of the course; (3) evaluation of student performance on the final exam compared to prior course offerings; and (4) instructor reflection.

The study found that students usually expressed a high acceptance of the learning process, believe both in class and out-of-class learning are improved, and expressed a desire to use the technology in other classes. Final exam test scores indicate no significant change in student performance on exams. The instructor found the technology adds tools to facilitate interaction and immediate assessment of learning and is excited about the prospect of using the technology in more classes. In conclusion, it is recommended use of this technology be considered for similar courses, but only if the instructor is prepared to invest significant time for mastering the technology and for preparation of advance notes for their first offering of the course.


Dialogue about the use of technology in engineering education may neglect the fundamental character of effective course-based learning. Clearly, effective learning in engineering courses depends first on the learner, not the technology used to foster learning. The learner must • value the knowledge, • be capable, and • have time and resources that permit them to learn.

Sutterer, K., & sexton, S. (2008, June), Interactive Learning Using A Tablet Pc In Civil Engineering Soil Mechanics Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4261

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