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Prevalence of Inscriptions in Transportation Engineering Text: Clues to Context

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1005.1 - 24.1005.18



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Paper Authors


Floraliza Bornilla Bornasal Oregon State University

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Floraliza B. Bornasal is a doctoral student in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University. Her research is currently in engineering education focusing on the transference of expertise among working professionals and undergraduate students. Prior to pursuing her doctoral degree at OSU, she worked as an engineering intern and project inspector for Garfield County Public Works and as an AmeriCorps Volunteer-in-Service-to-America (VISTA) aiding in community-building and data gathering for a low income community in Spokane, WA. She received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Saint Martin’s University and her master’s degree in civil engineering - with a focus in transportation - at Oregon State University.
Address: School of Civil and Construction Engineering, 211 Kearney Hall, 1491 SW Campus Way, Corvallis, OR 97331 Phone: 509-499-5187 Email:

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Shane A. Brown P.E. Oregon State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Brown is an Associate Professor in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University. His research focuses on cognition and learning in engineering mechanics with students, faculty, and practicing engineers. He is the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award in 2011 and multiple research and teaching awards.

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Prevalence of Inscriptions in Transportation Engineering Text: Clues to ContextContemporary research in engineering education regarding visual representations focus largelyon student responses to specific applications for delivering inscriptions, such as video ofconstruction processes or three dimensional representations of designed structures. Thisexploratory study approaches the use of inscriptions, which are visual representations embodiedwithin an existing, tangible medium, from a different perspective. The purpose of this study is toprovide insight into contemporary use of inscriptions, such as equations, tables, graphs,diagrams, and photographs, in representing a specific transportation engineering concept (sightdistance) within referential texts utilized in practice, as well as textbooks and course notesutilized in introductory courses for transportation engineering. Past research and theoreticalwork point toward a connection between situated learning and visual representations, noting itsrole in providing social and material context to learning. This study adds to this literature byinvestigating the current use of inscriptions regarding a specific concept utilized withintransportation engineering education. Content analysis is utilized as a methodology in order toexplore two issues regarding inscriptions: relative importance (as reflected by prevalence) ofinscriptions within two different domains (practice and academia) and the degree of abstractnessreflected by inscriptions based on Roth, Shaw, and Tobin’s inscriptional chain. Quantitativevalues are generated in order to represent prevalence and to differentiate between abstract formsof inscriptions. This study revealed that equations, tables, and diagrams appeared equallyprevalent amongst referential texts utilized in practice as well as within textbooks and coursenotes. However, the distribution amongst different types of inscriptions contrasted amongst thethree types of textual resources. The results of the study provide insight into a way in whichengineering educators may introduce contexts that are situated within engineering practice: theadoption of inscriptions that reflect the levels of abstractness of textual resources utilized withinpractice. Further, this exploratory study provides data that may guide further research exploringthe relationship between situated learning, contexts, and inscriptions.

Bornasal, F. B., & Brown, S. A. (2014, June), Prevalence of Inscriptions in Transportation Engineering Text: Clues to Context Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22938

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