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Use of Concept Maps to Assess Student Sustainability Knowledge

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Innovative Assessment Techniques in Civil Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1305.1 - 24.1305.18



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Paper Authors


Mary Katherine Watson The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Mary Katherine Watson is currently an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
at The Citadel. Prior to joining the faculty at The Citadel, Dr. Watson earned her PhD in Civil and
Environmental Engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology. She also has BS and MS degrees
in Biosystems Engineering from Clemson University. Dr. Watson’s research interests are in the areas
of engineering education and biological waste treatment. Specifically, she has been involved in research
projects to develop, refine, and apply innovative assessment tools for characterizing student knowledge
of sustainability. Her ultimate goal is to use this assessment data to guide the design and evaluation of
educational interventions to improve undergraduate sustainability education. In the area of bioprocessing,
Dr. Watson has experience using bacteria and algae to convert waste materials into high-value products,
such as biofuels.

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Joshua Pelkey AirWatch

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Joshua Pelkey is currently a product manager at AirWatch in Atlanta, GA. He completed his MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering at GT and his BS in Computer Engineering from Clemson University. He has conducted research and lead design projects in a variety of fields, including mobile device management, wireless communications, and remote monitoring of environmental systems. Joshua has been very interested and well-versed in sustainability issues since his tenure as an Engineers without Borders member and webmaster at Clemson.

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Caroline R. Noyes Georgia Institute of Technology

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Caroline Noyes is trained as an educational psychologist, and her education and work have focused on assessing student learning both in and outside of the classroom. Experiences in both academic affairs and student affairs provide her with a holistic understanding of the modern university and a broad collection of assessment methodologies suitable to a variety of situations. As her intellectual pursuits turned increasingly towards broader applications of educational assessment and evaluation, she left the classroom and moved to an administrative position focusing on both academic assessment of student learning and program evaluation. This administrative move has allowed her to increase use of qualitative assessment methods, and to enhance her skills in survey design.

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Michael Owen Rodgers Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Michael Rodgers is a research professor in the Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental
Engineering and a principal research scientist and distinguished technical fellow with the Georgia Tech
Research Institute. Over the last thirty plus years, Dr. Rodgers has held various academic, research and
administrative positions including serving as director of the Georgia Tech Air Quality laboratory from
1988 to 2008. He currently serves as deputy director for Research and Technology Transfer for National
Center for Transportation Productivity and Management at Georgia Tech.

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Assessment of Student Sustainability Knowledge using Concept Maps As the global landscape continues to evolve, engineers will be required to adapt their skills and professionalpractices to meet the needs of present and future generations. As a result, it is imperative that engineering educatorsstrive to equip their students with the knowledge necessary to act as sustainability-conscious engineers. Accuratesustainability knowledge assessments can aid in this endeavor by informing the design and evaluating theeffectiveness of efforts to infuse sustainability content into undergraduate courses and curricula. A study was conducted to demonstrate the efficacy of using concept maps (cmaps) to examine studentsustainability knowledge. Specifically, seniors enrolled in a Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) capstonedesign course at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) participated in a concept mapping workshopwhere they completed cmaps on the focus question: “What is sustainability?” Cmaps were analyzed using threedifferent scoring approaches found in the literature: the traditional method, the holistic method, and the categoricalmethod. Results indicated that inter-rater reliability, based on Krippendorff’s alpha, was acceptable for all threescoring approaches. For CEE at GT, these results support the need for educational interventions to guide students indeveloping sustainability knowledge networks that are balanced (in breadth and depth) and interconnected. Broadly,this study elucidates for engineering educators how to administer and score cmaps as sustainability knowledgeassessments.

Watson, M. K., & Pelkey, J., & Noyes, C. R., & Rodgers, M. O. (2014, June), Use of Concept Maps to Assess Student Sustainability Knowledge Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23238

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