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Student Produced Case Studies In An Introduction To Environmental Engineering Undergraduate Course To Create An Integrated Context For The Course Content.

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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

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1315.1 - 12.1315.8



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Paper Authors

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Margaret Hunter Hofstra University

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

Student Produced Case Studies in an Introduction to Environmental Engineering Undergraduate Course to Create an Integrated Context for the Course Content.


The creation of a student developed case study of an industry, business or municipality and its environmental challenges has allowed undergraduate students to apply and understand the course content material in an integrated manner. This is a sophomore level engineering course which introduces engineering technologies for control of the environment, and relates them to underlying scientific principles. Cases from aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric environments are discussed. The students also get an introduction to some of the major environmental laws. This is mostly a survey course with some elements of engineering design in environmental systems. The breadth of the topics can lead to student perception of unrelated items in a textbook. Even when problems are based as real life examples, the students appear to have difficulty understanding that the course material is all interrelated and can be applied to complex environmental problems. To relieve the sense of remoteness from the content material students create a case study of an industry throughout the semester.

The Case Method

Cases are usually narratives which are an “account of an engineering activity, event or problem containing some background and complexities actually encountered by an engineer.”1 Cases can be presented in a variety of formats such as case histories or problems. A case history is an account of an actual event or situation, warts and all. A case problem is an open ended situation with many possible solutions.2 Richards and Gorman2 describe the development of cases as a four step process with at least four stages. These stages are: Problem identification; investigation, interviewing, and information gathering; case development and use; and evaluation and refinement.

The use of cases in engineering education has been reviewed by Richards et al. 3 They describe the use of well prepared case studies as providing students with relevance, motivation, active involvement, consolidation/integration and transfer. The students gain relevance through problems and solutions that practicing engineers encounter. Motivation and active involvement occur through the complexity of the cases providing interest creating incentives for the students to immerse themselves in the topic. The students are active learners through participation, discussion and resolution of the case. The need to draw upon a variety of knowledge sources and integrate concepts leads to integration and consolidation. Through development of case-based reasoning, students can use the knowledge and skill acquired during the case method to transfer to new experience by drawing on the experiences they developed during their case study, or as discussed in this paper, the development of a case. Richards et al.3 also describe that the use of

Hunter, M. (2007, June), Student Produced Case Studies In An Introduction To Environmental Engineering Undergraduate Course To Create An Integrated Context For The Course Content. Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2875

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