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The Impact of Construction Site Tour During the First Week of Class on Student Learning in an Introductory Geotechnical Engineering Class

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2017 ASEE Mid Atlantic Section Spring Conference


Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

Publication Date

April 7, 2017

Start Date

April 7, 2017

End Date

April 8, 2017

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Oludare Adegbola Owolabi P.E. Morgan State University

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Dr. Oludare Owolabi, a professional engineer in Maryland, joined the Morgan State University faculty in 2010. He is the assistant director of the Center for Advanced Transportation and Infrastructure Engineering Research (CATIER) at Morgan State University and the director of the Civil Engineering Undergraduate Laboratory. He has over eighteen years of experience in practicing, teaching and research in civil engineering. His academic background and professional skills allows him to teach a range of courses across three different departments in the school of engineering. This is a rare and uncommon achievement.
Within his short time at Morgan, he has made contributions in teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses. He has been uniquely credited for his inspirational mentoring activities and educating underrepresented minority students. Through his teaching and mentoring at Morgan State University he plays a critical role in educating the next generation of underrepresented minority students, especially African-American civil engineering students.
He is also considered to be a paradigm of a modern engineer. He combines practical experience with advanced numerical analysis tools and knowledge of material constitutive relations. This is essential to address the challenges of advanced geotechnical and transportation research and development. He is an expert in advanced modeling and computational mechanics. His major areas of research interest centers on pavement engineering, sustainable infrastructure development, soil mechanics, physical and numerical modeling of soil structures, computational geo-mechanics, constitutive modeling, pavement design, characterization and prediction of behavior of pavement materials, linear and non-linear finite element applications in geotechnical engineering, geo-structural systems analysis, structural mechanics, sustainable infrastructure development, and material model development. He had been actively involved in planning, designing, supervising, and constructing many civil engineering projects, such as roads, storm drain systems, a $70 million water supply scheme which is comprised of treatment works, hydraulic mains, access roads, and auxiliary civil works. He had developed and optimized many highway design schemes and models. For example, his portfolio includes a cost-effective pavement design procedure based on a mechanistic approach, in contrast to popular empirical procedures. In addition, he had been equally engaged in the study of capacity loss and maintenance implications of local and state roads (a World Bank-sponsored project). He was the project manager of the design team that carried out numerical analyses to assess the impact of the new shaft and tunnel stub construction on existing London Underground Limited (LUL) structures as per the proposed alternative 3 design of the Green park Station Step access (SFA) Project in U. K. He was also the project manager of Category III design check for the Tottenham Court Road Tunnel Underground Station upgrade Project in UK.

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It has been noted that not all students come to class with a clear idea of significance of the subject matter they are about to learn, it is therefore incumbent on the instructor that the students are assisted to grasps the value and importance of the subject. The quicker this is done, the quicker students will begin investing time and energy into the learning process. The Geotechnical Engineering and Laboratory course is the first introductory class in geotechnical engineering of a civil engineering curriculum and usually many students are not familiar with the principles and concepts of geotechnical engineering. Subsequently, in-order to get students to buy-in into identifying the value and importance of the subject matter at an earlier stage so as to successfully facilitate active learning, it is essential that high impact pedagogical activity be adopted and administered during the first week of class. Subsequently, the active learning strategy adopted by the author in teaching an introductory geotechnical course in a predominantly historical black institution was construction site tour. During the first week of class a construction site tour was organized, whereby the students experienced in real life the application of the principles and concepts of geotechnical engineering in the design and construction of the foundation and structural elements of the infrastructure system under construction. It is pertinent to note that nearly all geotechnical engineering concepts can be exemplified in one way or another by the design and construction of foundation and structural elements of any infrastructural system. The paper describes full details about the construction site visit and the impact on student learning during the semester. The results of the students’ report and the survey administered with a total of about 40 students offering the course (two sessions) show a strong statistical relationship between construction site experience and student learning. The students are engaged throughout the semester in discussion about the linkages between various curricular topics ( e.g soil classification, compaction, ground water, consolidation and shear strength) and the real life application experienced during the construction site tour. The paper further elaborates on how the impact has been felt in comparison to previous semesters when there was no introductory site visit. The results this semester have been dramatically different in students’ engagement and learning as students come to class adequately prepared ready to ask questions in-order to satisfy their curiosity from the field trip, working with peers in class and completing frequent assessments of learning. The paper finally recommends that this high impact pedagogy be replicated at other HBCU schools with a civil Engineering program.

Owolabi, O. A. (2017, April), The Impact of Construction Site Tour During the First Week of Class on Student Learning in an Introductory Geotechnical Engineering Class Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Mid Atlantic Section Spring Conference, Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--29267

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