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Interdisciplinary Pedagogy: Using Teams To Teach The Bok

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Who Should Teach the BOK

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.945.1 - 12.945.11



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Paper Authors


Jennifer Large Seagrave University of Utah

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At University of Utah, Jennifer Large, M.A., teaches writing and professional practice topics in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering through the Center for Engineering Leadership, while pursuing a PhD in English Literature. She also works as practitioner faculty at University of Phoenix, teaching literature, writing, and film studies.

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

Interdisciplinary Pedagogy: Using Teams to Teach the BOK


With a full third of ASCE’s prescribed Body of Knowledge learning outcomes based on professional practice and communication skills, engineering administrators must consider who is best suited to teach its various components. Teaching the interdisciplinary curriculum poses problems for traditional engineering faculty because most are not trained in communication and teamwork pedagogy. This paper considers how University of Utah approaches “who should teach the body of knowledge” by examining interdisciplinary team teaching in Civil and Environmental Engineering. It specifically focuses on the communication related learning outcomes 6, 7, 8, 9, and 15, and how University of Utah employs teaching teams, including instructors from Communication, Writing and Engineering in order to accomplish them by following the collaboration in one department-required technical communication course over four semesters.

The BOK and Traditional Engineering Faculty

The idea that multi-disciplinary collaborations might infuse engineering classrooms with multiple perspectives and expertise is not new. However, the implementation of such multi- disciplinarity in required Civil Engineering courses has largely been confined to multiple engineering disciplines, e.g. geotechnical, structural, and water resource engineers coming together to complete a project. These multi-disciplinary experiences help students demonstrate “an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams,” satisfying one of ASCE’s prescribed Body of Knowledge (BOK)1 learning outcomes. However, with a full third of the BOK’s prescribed learning outcomes based on professional practice and communication skills, Civil Engineering administrators have begun to consider the interdisciplinary2 characteristics of the BOK.

Among ten more technically-focused learning outcomes, the BOK entails that graduates demonstrate “(6) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility, (7) an ability to communicate effectively, (8) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context, (9) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning,…[and] (15) an understanding of the role of the leader and leadership principles and attitudes.”3 All of these outcomes concern an intersection between the professional practice of Civil Engineering and other disciplines, such as writing, communication, ethics and education. Because it encompasses such a wide range of skills, teaching the entire BOK curriculum poses problems for traditional engineering faculty, not only because they lack pedagogy training in communication and teamwork,4 but because program-required courses must also include a full term of technical material. Pressed for time and specializing in technical skills, many engineering faculty find assessing students’ written communication and teamwork difficult and time consuming. And yet these written, oral and teamwork deliverables are most likely the assignments that “demonstrate” the students’ familiarity with many prescribed BOK learning outcomes.

Alternative Instructional Approaches in Undergraduate Engineering Programs

Large Seagrave, J. (2007, June), Interdisciplinary Pedagogy: Using Teams To Teach The Bok Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1683

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