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Opening the Classroom to the Civil Engineering Profession through Web-based Class Projects: Assessment of Student Learning

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1206.1 - 26.1206.16



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Paper Authors


William Greenwood University of Michigan

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William Greenwood is a doctoral student in Civil Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. His research interests in geotechnical earthquake engineering include post-disaster site reconnaissance, seismic geophysics, and dynamic properties of waste materials. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Vermont in 2013.

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Dimitrios Zekkos P.E. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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Dimitrios Zekkos is an Associate Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the University of Michigan. His research interests are in geoenvironmental engineering and soil dynamics and earthquake engineering. Dr. Zekkos received his undergraduate degree from the University of Patras in Greece, and a Master’s of Science and PhD Degree in geoengineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to joining the University of Michigan in 2008, he worked for a consulting company in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Opening the Classroom to the Civil Engineering Profession through Web-based Class Projects: Assessment of Student Learning Recent studies have shown that learning improves when coursework is reviewed by largeraudiences rather than just the instructor. Students are also more enthusiastic and willing to workharder when they feel that coursework relates to engineering practice. These desirable outcomescan be achieved by involving the professional engineering community in student class projects. Aweb-based platform for class projects has been implemented in a graduate-level civil engineeringcourse on Soil and Site Improvement during the Winter 2014 semester. The platform has beenused to replace a conventional class project, which typically comprises a written report and a classpresentation generally reviewed by the instructor only, and to promote virtual interaction betweenthe students and professionals in the field. Student projects were made publically available onlinethrough the web-based platform. Practitioners and experts in soil improvement were invited toreview the student reports and provide comments or ask questions. Students responded to reviewcomments and addressed them in the reports as part of the class deliverables. Final reports andpresentation slides remain online as a resource for professionals. To assess the impact of the web-based projects on student learning, enthusiasm, and willingness to work harder, student surveyswere developed and administered. Survey results indicated that web-based outreach projectsresulted in greater student motivation. Students reported that their learning and work ethic wasgreater for a web-based project than a conventional project. Students also responded verypositively to interacting with professionals. Survey results were also compared to animplementation of web-based projects in a Geoenvironmental Engineering course one year earlier.The impact of the projects on professionals was not explicitly targeted by this study. However, anadditional observation of this "experiment" was the enthusiastic engagement of the professionalsin reviewing class projects. Future work involves expanding the platform to additional courses anduniversities. This paper includes suggestions for instructors interested in adopting the web-basedproject model.

Greenwood, W., & Zekkos, D. (2015, June), Opening the Classroom to the Civil Engineering Profession through Web-based Class Projects: Assessment of Student Learning Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24543

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