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Physical Artifacts in Introductory-level Reinforced Concrete Design Instruction

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Proven Strategies in Classroom Engagement Part I: Artifacts for Creative Pedagogy

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Anahid Behrouzi University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Anahid Behrouzi is a doctoral student of civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been involved with STEM education beginning in 2003 as a volunteer and summer instructor with the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science. She has been engaged with undergraduate/ graduate course delivery in the topic areas of engineering problem-solving, structural engineering, and reinforced concrete design at North Carolina State University (2008-2011), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2012-2015), and Tufts University (2015-present). She has a BS in civil engineering and BA in Spanish language & literature from North Carolina State University, and a MS in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Incorporating physical models and demonstrations in the introductory-level reinforced concrete design course has shown to be beneficial for students in clarifying and engraining fundamental concepts. The research study conducted at the author’s university during Spring 2015 involved the design, fabrication, and implementation of models to supplement traditional lectures on topics that students have found challenging in prior offerings of the course. Specifically, these demonstration tools illustrate:

• Three-dimensional stress blocks for rectangular/flanged beams subjected to varying levels of flexural demand • Distinctions between the flexural behavior of one and two-way slabs • Placement of steel reinforcement for singly/doubly reinforced beams with shear stirrups • Design of one-way slab building systems including construction of slab, interior/edge beams, and columns as well as connection detailing

The paper will include details intended to enable other civil engineering educators to: fabricate the models, incorporate them in a large-lecture setting, as well as facilitate activities that encourage students to engage with the physical artifacts.The author will also present student feedback on the use of these physical models that was acquired through an IRB-approved human studies research study during Spring 2015. This includes results from mid- and end-term surveys with two class sections of over ninety undergraduate and graduate students.

The overall objective of this paper is to provide educators with sample teaching tools to help students better visualize three-dimensional ideas and systems – a skill which is critical as students transition to design industry. In addition, it is intended to stimulate a dialogue with educators about further needs for physical models in reinforced concrete design education, and more generally, in the civil engineering design classroom.

Behrouzi, A. (2016, June), Physical Artifacts in Introductory-level Reinforced Concrete Design Instruction Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25898

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