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Use of Interactive Classroom Models and Activities to Increase Comprehension of Geotechnical Engineering Concepts

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1294.1 - 23.1294.20



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Paper Authors


Kimberly A Warren University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Dr. Kimberly Warren is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who specializes in the field of Geotechnical Engineering. She holds her Civil Engineering degrees from Virginia Tech and North Carolina State Universities. Her disciplinary research interests involve the use of geosynthetic materials (polymeric materials) incorporated into civil engineering structures including roadways and earth retaining structures. Most of her work involves the instrumentation and long-term monitoring of heavily instrumented structures. Due to her strong passion for teaching, Dr. Warren pursued educational research opportunities in recent years and was awarded an NSF TUES grant, which she is currently finishing up with hopes of continuing her work in this area. Dr. Warren was awarded a UNC Charlotte College of Engineering teaching award for her dedication to teaching.

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Chuang Wang University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Dr. Chuang Wang is an associate professor of Educational Research and is currently teaching educational research (both quantitative and qualitative) courses at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has served as an independent program evaluator for four federally funded research grants. Dr. Wang has published five books, seven book chapters, 50 journal articles, and over 50 paper presentations at national and international academic conferences. He has won the 2008 Distinguished Paper Award at American Educational Research Association annual conference and the 2009 Excellence in Research Award at UNC Charlotte.

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Use of Interactive Classroom Models and Activities to Increase Comprehension of Geotechnical Engineering Concepts Most Civil Engineering (CE) programs require an undergraduategeotechnical engineering course. While engineering students are capable of‘utilizing’ equations to solve geotechnical problems, they have a difficult timedeveloping a complete ‘comprehension’ of the equations, fundamental concepts,and engineering application. The ability to reach higher levels of comprehensionis contingent on the mastery at the foundation material. It is important thatfaculty use diverse teaching methods and encourage students to elevate their levelof thinking. As part of a course curriculum grant, a required undergraduategeotechnical engineering course was targeted to formally investigate and assessthe use of interactive classroom tools referred to as Geotechnical Concept Tools(GCT). The entire course curriculum was revamped and the GCT were developedto create student-centered learning activities and interactive classroom modelsand/or visuals to evaluate their effect on comprehension and retention offundamental geotechnical engineering concepts, and assess preferred learningstrategies. Students who are challenged by conventional lecture delivery stylesmay benefit from a more diverse teaching method, but the use and formalassessment of these methods for a Geotechnical Engineering course is notdocumented in the literature. This study was designed to span four academic semesters. The first twosemesters were taught using conventional lecture methods. Participating studentsduring these first two semesters represent the control group. The last twosemesters (currently underway) will be taught with the integration of GCT.Qualitative and quantitative data are collected as part of this project and will beused to compare student learning outcomes in the treatment and control groups.Specifically, the purpose of this project is to 1) develop effective, innovativedesk-top tools that will provide students with an interactive, visual learningexperience, 2) implement these tools while identifying the challenges, 3) conductan extensive evaluation of the impact of this effort, and 4) formalize a new modelfor use in engineering programs. The comprehensive evaluation plan evaluates the effectiveness of theimplementation process and will assess the impact of GCT on comprehension (perlecture) and retention (during the course of the semester) using both “pre-postsingle group outcome design” and “comparison (cross-sectional) group design”methods. The evaluation team includes an education assessment expert from theCollege of Education, an internal evaluator within the CE Department, and twoexternal evaluators with engineering education evaluation expertise. Qualitativedata from observation field notes, instructor teaching logs/reflections, and studentinterviews will be analyzed using constant comparison method from groundedtheory where statements will be grouped by common themes. The emergingthemes will be adapted during the data analysis procedures. Quantitativeinstruments include pre and post student surveys, short quizzes, content moduletests, and the final exam. Quantitative data from criteria-based assessments willbe analyzed using statistical procedures. Both formative and summativeevaluation will be conducted to assess the objectives of the project. This paper will outline the details of the project design and evaluationplan. Additionally, the results of the baseline data collected from the controlgroup will be summarized.

Warren, K. A., & Wang, C. (2013, June), Use of Interactive Classroom Models and Activities to Increase Comprehension of Geotechnical Engineering Concepts Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22679

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