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Use of a Driving Simulator to Enhance Learning Experience of Undergraduates in Highway Design

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Civil Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1408.1 - 25.1408.13



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Paper Authors


Dan Cernusca Missouri University of Science & Technology

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Dan Cernusca is Instructional Design Specialist in the Department of Global Learning at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He received his Ph.D. degree in information science and learning technologies in 2007 from University of Missouri, Columbia. He also holds a B.S. and a Ph.D. from the University of Sibiu, Romania, with a specialization in manufacturing technologies and respectively cutting-tools design. His research interests include design-based research in technology-enabled learning contexts, technology-mediated problem solving, applications of dynamic modeling for learning of complex topics, and the impact of epistemic beliefs on learning with technology.

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Ghulam H. Bham PhD Missouri University of Science & Technology

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Ghulam H. Bham is a faculty member at the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Department at the Missouri University of Science & Technology. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include modeling and simulation of driver behavior in transportation systems, traffic operations and control, traffic safety, and engineering education.

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USE OF A DRIVING SIMULATOR TO ENHANCE LEARNING EXPERIENCE OF UNDERGRADUATES IN HIGHWAY DESIGN ABSTRACT ASEE 2012Academic research often creates high-end technology with specific research-related functions. Thistechnology typically provides tools for small groups of doctoral, master or senior undergraduate studentsengaged in research or experiential activities. However, it is rarely used as an instructional tool forclassroom-based activities especially of undergraduate students. This paper presents the first steps inintegrating a driving simulator in an introductory course in Transportation Engineering for civil engineersas a means to create a more stimulating context for learning highway design.Driving simulators are used generally for research in the area of human factors, to monitor driverbehavior, performance and attention in the automobile industry to design and evaluate new technologiessuch as new advanced driver assistance systems or traffic control devices in different environments. Asimulator's sophisticated computer programs can generate multiple driving scenarios populated with othervehicles. The driving simulator used in this study is capable of manipulating various geometric, control,traffic and environmental conditions such as horizontal and vertical alignment, types of roadway, trafficsignals, scenarios such as daytime versus nighttime, fog, as well as other factors in simulated driving.For this study, the driving simulator served initially as a mean to create a more realistic context forhighway design activities that were the focus of the introductory undergraduate TransportationEngineering course for civil engineers. The goal was to help civil engineer students to get a betterunderstanding of the potential impact of a good and bad highway design on drivers’ road experience andtherefore motivate them to engage in the highway design project. After the simulated drive through,students completed a questionnaire that surveyed their experience in terms of engagement, effectivenessand motivation generated by the use of this simulator.Based on students’ feedback from the first implementation, in a second implementation, students wereexposed to a simulated combination of good and bad vertical designs. The initial students’ exposure to thedriving simulator, similar to the one described above, was followed by a second use of the simulator afterthe students completed the vertical design of the highway. This second exposure served both as areflective phase of the design activity of the vertical alignment and as a feedback for the instructor on theeffectiveness of the design project on students’ learning of this phase of the highway design process. Toachieve this goal, the survey of students’ perceptions was completed with a set of questions (bothquantitative and qualitative) that asked students to evaluate the quality of the simulated curves and toexplain the differences they found between the good and bad design they were exposed to in the virtualenvironment. Students’ answers to the initial and consequent exposure to the simulated driving arepresented to both provide the support for the above-mentioned goals and to identify potential futureimprovements of this activity.

Cernusca, D., & Bham, G. H. (2012, June), Use of a Driving Simulator to Enhance Learning Experience of Undergraduates in Highway Design Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22165

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