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Transformation of a Large Civil Engineering Department Curriculum using the ASCE BOK2

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1599.1 - 26.1599.21



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Paper Authors


Kelly Brumbelow Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Kelly Brumbelow is an Associate Professor and the Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate Programs in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. He has been a faculty member at Texas A&M since 2002, where his technical specialty is water resources engineering, planning, and management. Prior to this position, he completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Georgia Tech, where he taught undergraduate courses for 7 years. His professional activities have included projects in East Africa, Central America, the Middle East, Alaska's North Slope, and throughout the "lower 48 states." His current activities at Texas A&M cover a wide spectrum from K-12 outreach and recruiting to undergraduate curriculum design to retention, monitoring, and post-graduation engagement.

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Debra A. Fowler Texas A&M University

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Dr. Debra Fowler serves the Associate Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Texas A&M University. Following 16 years working in industry she completed a Ph.D. is in Interdisciplinary Engineering with a specific focus on engineering education from Texas A&M University. Her research areas of focus are faculty perspectives and growth through curriculum design and redesign, professional development of graduate students related to teaching and the influence of reflection and creation of eportfolios on student connections to learning and employment.

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James R. Morgan Texas A&M University

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Jim Morgan is the father of two daughters and the spouse of an engineer. He has been at Texas A&M for 30 years, currently serving as an associate professor of civil engineering. Jim has been active in the freshman engineering program at A&M for nearly 20 years; was an active participant in the NSF Foundation Coalition from 1993 to 2003; also has received funding for his engineering education research from the Department of Education FIPSE program and from the National Science Foundation CCLI program.
He is active in the American Society for Engineering Education, is past chair of the Freshman Programs Division, currently serves on the steering committee. In addition to his teaching in engineering, Jim served several years as Co-Director of the Eisenhower Leadership Development Program in the Center for Public Leadership at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service; and currently serves as director of Aggie STEM with funding from the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

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Whitney L. Anthony Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University

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Whitney Anthony is a former graduate assistant for the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. She assisted the curriculum transformation team with data-gathering and logistical coordination. She received both an M.E. and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University and is now working for a structural engineering consulting firm in Dallas, Texas.

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Transformation of a large civil engineering department curriculum using the ASCE BOK2  K. Brumbelow1, D. Fowler2, J. Morgan1, W. Anthony1  1 Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University  2 Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University Texas A&M University’s civil engineering department (approximately 1000 undergraduate students and 60 faculty) decided to undertake a curriculum transformation project based on concerns of conceptual gaps and redundancies in the degree program and the significant time that had elapsed since the last comprehensive curriculum restructuring.  The curriculum redesign was informed by Wolf (2007) and Diamond (2011) models of curriculum design and by ASCE’s Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge for the 21st Century: Preparing the Civil Engineer for the Future, 2nd Edition (BOK2). A large faculty teaching across a civil engineering curriculum typically would not be familiar with all of the detailed learning outcomes in the BOK2. Consequently, one of the first steps of the curriculum redesign process was to acquaint the faculty with the details of the document. The suggested review of the BOK2 document, including details of each program learning outcome, was not met without question and frustration; hence, the curriculum design process was cast as a parallel to the civil engineering project design model to help explain the need for fully understanding the BOK2 learning outcomes. A comparative table of the ABET criteria 3, BOK2 outcomes, and current departmental civil engineering outcomes was created and discussed during a curriculum transformation team meeting.  After illustrating that the BOK2 outcomes included all of the ABET required outcomes, the curriculum redesign team adopted the 24 BOK2 outcomes as the new civil engineering program learning outcomes. A set of performance criteria at four defined levels, often termed rubrics, was then created for each program learning outcome. The BOK2 was an extremely valuable resource for this process as well as identified literature such as the ABET Webinars on ‘Developing Rubrics’ by Gloria Rogers which were all shared with the faculty. The process included one‐on‐one meetings with faculty that were the content experts for specific learning outcomes so that they could better understand the expectations for creating rubrics and see some examples. A current draft of the 30 rubrics – one for each BOK2 outcome except “Technical Specialization” for which seven specialty area rubrics were developed – will be shared during the session and a direct correlation made with the BOK2 and the civil engineering rubrics.   Well‐defined performance criteria may not yield results if there is no accountability to implementing them across a curriculum. The next step in the curriculum transformation process was to update current courses or design new courses that incorporated all 30 of the civil engineering rubrics. Thus, a curriculum map was created to show how each course (including non‐departmental courses) incorporates specific program learning outcomes at three levels: 1) introducing; 2) reinforcing; and 3) demonstrating.  Employer and recent graduate survey results focused on BOK2 outcomes highlighted outcomes needing particular consideration when creating the curriculum map. The curriculum map will be shared and the process discussed, demonstrating that the BOK2 can be used as a curricular foundation even in a very large and diverse civil engineering program. 

Brumbelow, K., & Fowler, D. A., & Morgan, J. R., & Anthony, W. L. (2015, June), Transformation of a Large Civil Engineering Department Curriculum using the ASCE BOK2 Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24935

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