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Teaching Engineering Courses In An Off Campus Environment

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.582.1 - 5.582.7

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Paper Authors

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Bruce A. DeVantier

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John W. Nicklow

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

Session 2651

Teaching Engineering Courses in an Off-Campus Environment

John W. Nicklow, Bruce A. DeVantier Southern Illinois University Carbondale


This paper describes a new off-campus graduate program in environmental engineering that is offered through Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Courses are offered to working professionals on a weekly basis in Springfield, IL, located 200 miles from the university’s main campus. The paper notes several key differences between teaching styles and effectiveness in this off-campus program when compared to that in a more traditional on-campus setting. These differences include that the instructors must be consciously aware of additional job-related constraints imposed on their students, that students tend to have a higher level of expectation with regard to content and delivery, and that additional time and effort must be invested by the instructor in order to create an effective learning experience for remote students.

I. Introduction

In November 1997, the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) authorized Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) to establish a graduate program in Springfield, Illinois leading to a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering. The authorization came in response to an expressed interest by a number of engineers employed at state agencies including the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The inaugural program has been designed with an emphasis in environmental engineering and is intended to serve working professionals in both the private and public sectors. Beginning in August 1998, program courses that focus on topics such as water treatment, groundwater hydrology and hazardous waste incineration have been taught by faculty from both the Department of Civil Engineering and Department Mechanical Engineering and Energy Processes. In accordance with the IBHE authorization, on-site instruction for the courses is provided at the headquarter offices of the IEPA, located approximately 200 miles from the SIUC main campus. Requirements for the degree program, however, are identical to on-campus policies and standards, including faculty qualifications, student admission and performance, and program evaluation and review. The arrangement ensures that quality instruction and a high level of student-teacher interaction can be maintained.

As instructors participating in the Springfield MSCE program, the authors have noted significant differences between the off-campus and more conventional on-campus teaching environments. For example, classes often require additional preparation, and course material and instructional style require modification to challenge and maintain interest of the nontraditional student. This

DeVantier, B. A., & Nicklow, J. W. (2000, June), Teaching Engineering Courses In An Off Campus Environment Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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