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Re-engineering Bowling Green State University's Construction Management Capstone

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Construction 2: Teaching Using Projects, Case Studies, and Service Learning

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Robert B. Austin Bowling Green State University

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Dr. Austin has over 30 years of construction, engineering and facility experience in industrial, transportation and building projects across the full range of project delivery systems. His industry experience is multi-faceted with a strong background in civil engineering and construction management on both domestic and international projects. Having served in responsible charge of projects nationwide, he possesses professional engineering licenses in several states. During his professional tenure he has received awards for construction innovation, superior project performances and one of the projects received industry recognition a project of the year.

Dr. Austin recently earned his Doctorate in Construction Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology where his research focus was on accelerated project deliveries (i.e., faster, more predictable fast-track construction). His teaching and research interests cross the spectrum of the construction management subjects, with a current focus on project management, construction equipment, planning and scheduling and research and teaching methodologies.

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Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is amongst the highest ranking schools for student engagement which is considered a critical component for student success. One element of that engagement is the Construction Management senior-level capstone course. As part of continuing evolution and improvement of the construction management program, the capstone course is being refined to prepare students for their transition to current industry needs, instill life-long learning principles and also as a means to evaluate and improve the department’s instructional methods. The objective of this study outlines the analytic methods taken in assessing the current instructional approach, describes the improvements and reports on our results. Similar to other capstone courses, real-world projects are undertaken in a cooperative learning assignment. Student self-assessments, feedback from industry partners, final course evaluations, and the school’s historical performance on a third-party skills testing have been used to highlight areas for improvement. Initial assessments suggest that opportunities include broadening the scope of the problem-based assignments, focus on weak points revealed in the third-party skills testing, and an increased level of instructor-student engagement. A literature review and collaboration with BGSU’s Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) on effective problem-based, active and situated learning instructional methods was completed to explore alternatives.

In BGSU’s refined capstone course, the instructor assigns the capstone projects and teams based on experience summaries, self-assessments and interests obtained from a student survey completed at the onset of the class. The scope of project-based learning assignments has been a broadened to capture an expanded range of the program’s concentrations which include residential, commercial and heavy civil construction through two structured cooperative learning assignments, focusing on areas in need of improvement. One of the capstone projects is a traditional design-build-build project, for example, a small bridge replacement. The second project is an interdisciplinary design-build project, such as a mixed-use commercial development. Distinguishing elements of these assignments include students’ cooperative education experiences, industry input and weekly small group conferences where the instructor(s) serve as resources or subject matter experts. At the conclusion of the both capstone assignment, students are asked to offer self- and group-assessments where they are also asked to provide their lessons learned and areas for improvements. Conference room, student-instructor interactions has served to better communicate “industry” expectations, address points of question and as a means for both individual and small group performance assessments. The American Institute of Constructors’ (AIC) third-party certification examination serves as a means of assessing a student’s understanding of the construction process, as well as a resource for the school's accreditation program.

Investigations are ongoing. The completed paper will offer construction educators insights into the metrics employed in guiding the BGSU improvement process, the role and context of the instructor in problem-based learning, and the results of refined teaching methodologies, as well as student perceptions of the implemented improvements.

Austin, R. B. (2017, June), Re-engineering Bowling Green State University's Construction Management Capstone Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28779

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