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The Project Management K'nexercise: Using Role Playing To Facilitate Learning About Design And Construction

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.576.1 - 3.576.6



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Stephen J. Ressler

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

Session 3206

The Project Management K’nexercise: Using Role-Playing to Facilitate Learning About Design and Construction

Stephen J. Ressler United States Military Academy

INTRODUCTION This paper describes the use of a role-playing exercise to facilitate students’ understanding of the interactions between the key players in the civil engineering design-construction process. It also describes the use of student journals as a means of assessing learning outcomes. The role-playing exercise is used in CE400A, a 1.0 credit-hour seminar course taken by all seniors in the ABET-accredited civil engineering program at the United States Military Academy, West Point. CE400A was developed three years ago, in response to the program director’s judgment that the civil engineering program lacked emphasis on professional practice issues. The course objectives, formulated to address this deficiency, are as follows: • Explain the characteristics of a profession. • Explain the roles and responsibilities of the members of the CE project team—Owner, Design Professional, Constructor, and Project Manager. • Apply the ASCE Code of Ethics to the solution of an ethical problem in civil engineering. • Demonstrate an understanding of the multi-faceted challenges facing civil engineers in professional practice. • Develop a long-range plan for professional development. To accomplish these objectives, the original CE400A program of instruction consisted of a series of seminars, case studies, and guest lectures by civil engineering practitioners, as well as a professional reading requirement. Students were required to keep journals documenting their observations, insights, criticisms, and questions about each of the lessons in the course. The journals served the dual purpose of assessing student learning and assigning a grade for the course. I have served as the course director and principal instructor of CE400A since it was first offered in Academic Year 1995-96. At the conclusion of this first year, my analysis of student journals clearly indicated that the course had been a success, with one striking exception. Students’ understanding of the roles and responsibilities of CE practitioners (the second objective listed above) was consistently poor. I had taught this subject on the first lesson of the course, in a traditional interactive lecture format, using the American Society of Civil Engineers’ model (as depicted in Figure 1) to describe “the project team.”1 Journal entries written immediately after this lesson indicated that the students could, in fact, explain the ASCE model; but in the following weeks, their comments about guest lectures clearly demonstrated that many could not

1 Quality in the Constructed Product: A Guide for Owners, Designers and Constructors (ASCE Manual No. 73), American Society of Civil Engineers, 1990.

Ressler, S. J. (1998, June), The Project Management K'nexercise: Using Role Playing To Facilitate Learning About Design And Construction Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7367

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