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Tailoring Construction Management Instruction to the Emerging Adult Learner

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Construction Division Technical Session 2: K-12 through Adult Learning

Tagged Division

Construction Engineering

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Paper Authors


Robert B. Austin Bowling Green State University

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Dr. Austin has over 30 years of heavy 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, a rebuild of a university campus, received industry recognition a project of the year. Dr. Austin earned his Bachelors and Masters in Civil Engineering from the University of Connecticut and University of Texas. He 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 publications include a selection of industry articles on concrete technology, project management, safety and quality management. His academic research and writings have been on concrete repairs, structural plastics and flash track project management were funded by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Construction Industry Institute.
Dr. Austin’s teaching and research interests cross the spectrum of the construction management, with a current focus on project management, construction equipment, planning and scheduling and research and teaching methodologies.

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According to the National Survey of Student Engagement, xxxx is a national leader in providing opportunities in experiential education. xxxx’s Construction Management program has been at the forefront of this experience having required three progressively responsible levels of cooperative education experiences within the program of undergraduate study – each with faculty oversight. In addition to offering real-work experiences, these co-ops help in the evolution of students to becoming adult learners. This progressive exposure to the construction industry has also afforded the opportunity to re-assess instructional methods for students entering their junior and senior years to more effectively teach challenging and critical concepts drawing on the student’s experiences and desires to excel in their budding careers.

This paper offers a perspective on the experience of employing Malcolm Knowles’ six principles of andragogy, the art and science of helping adults learn within the university level construction management curriculum. In doing so, instructional approaches were reconsidered based in part on feedback on industry needs, which dictated considering more problem-based assignments, narrative discussion of relevancies and participative approach to instruction to address challenging concepts. Participative instructional approaches have included identification of knowledge gaps and extending autonomy in the selection of choices assignments tailored to market segments (e.g., commercial, heavy civil, mechanical/electrical, marine,) to meet the instructional learning objectives.

This reassessment process has its challenges as the emerging adult learner who falls into a distinctly unique class students. Whereas, the student seek and respond to relevancy of instructional topics and are driven to excel in their budding professional careers; in areas they lack a sufficient level of experience to effectively exercise critical thinking skills needed for sequencing construction activities, identifying construction risks and mitigation measures, and decision making skills – which they will soon encounter in practice. By employing an element of flexibility to Knowles’ principles a mixture of formal theory and practical examples is expected to offer students a strong foundations of these areas as they enter the professional ranks. In cultivating their adult educations skills, students are expected to accelerate their skills in the adult learning process.

This discussion is relevant to construction educators as it offers approaches and techniques to identify gaps in the student’s knowledge base, explore alternative instructional approaches, identifies important criteria for instructors to consider when selecting specific activities, and offers sample instructional exercises to nurture the emerging adult learner and promote life-long learning practices. These principles have been and are ongoing in a selection of courses at xxxx. This research is expected to build upon a sparse collection of writings on andragogy within the construction industry and may be the first to explore its applications in university level instruction. Within the next few months a formal discussion of our finding will be completed

Austin, R. B. (2018, June), Tailoring Construction Management Instruction to the Emerging Adult Learner Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31040

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