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Using Your Campus as a Laboratory: An Adaptable Field Trip on Geomorphology for Engineering Geology

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Active and Out There: Labs and Active Learning

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Kristin M. Sample-Lord P.E. Villanova University

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Dr. Kristin Sample-Lord is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Villanova University, with expertise in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering. Her research focuses on soil barrier systems for protection of human health and the environment and geotechnical aspects of stormwater control measures. Dr. Sample-Lord teaches a number of undergraduate and graduate courses, including Geology for Engineers, Soil Mechanics and Geoenvironmental Processes.

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Virginia Smith Villanova University


Patricia Gallagher P.E. Drexel University (Eng. & Eng. Tech.)

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Dr. Patricia Gallagher is an Associate Professor in Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Drexel University. She specializes in geotechnical engineering, geoenvironmental engineering, and sustainability and resilience of infrastructure. She has researched soil improvement for hazard mitigation and contaminant remediation, the use of recycled materials in geotechnical engineering applications, and the use of life cycle assessment to develop metrics assessing the environmental sustainability of geotechnical engineering works. Her current focus is on incorporating life cycle assessment methods into geoenvironmental and geotechnical engineering to provide decision-making tools for the environmental sustainability of infrastructure and remediation projects. She researches and implements evidence-based teaching strategies in engineering education and has extensive experience with recruitment and retention of underrepresented students. Dr. Gallagher also participated in the development of the NSF ADVANCE funded Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering (ELATE) program at Drexel University. ELATE is a national leadership development program to advance senior women faculty into leadership.

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Andrea L. Welker Villanova University

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Andrea L. Welker, PhD, PE is a Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Villanova University. Most of Dr. Welker’s research is focused on stormwater control measures including monitoring of individual practices as well as the effects of stormwater management on streams. She is currently part of a multi-state, multi-year effort supported by the William Penn Foundation to ensure plentiful, clean water in the Delaware River Watershed. In addition, she is studying the effect of modern-day stormwater management on streams. She is active in the Geo-Institute of the ASCE and is also the Chair of the Civil Engineering Division of ASEE.

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Civil engineers at Villanova University are required to take a geology course as part of their undergraduate curriculum. However, engaging and interesting civil engineering students in geology has historically been a challenge. This course provides students with an understanding of geological concepts that will be of use in two later courses, hydraulics and hydrology and soil mechanics. In addition, this course helps to fulfill the math and science ABET requirements. The last third of the course covers geomorphology topics (e.g. hydrologic cycle, landscapes, streams and rivers, floods, groundwater, glaciers, oceans, coasts, and sea level rise). Three years ago the course was converted to a flipped (inverted) format, which motivated the geotechnical and water resources faculty to develop an on-campus geomorphology field trip to better engage students with the material and emphasize the relevance of the course to civil engineering. The geomorphology field trip, which was designed to take 75 minutes, includes eight stops and focuses on anthropogenic and bio-driven morphology. Faculty set the stage for the field trip for 15 minutes, then the class spends 60 minutes exploring the campus. During the field trip, students complete a worksheet and record their observations for each stop. Many aspects of the field trip likely are easily adaptable to other university campuses. The content of the field trip is described in detail, with example photographs of each feature. Results from student surveys regarding students’ perception of the field trip in fall 2018 are presented. Based on the surveys, 100% of the students felt that the field trip improved their overall learning experience, and 97% of the students recommended that the field trip continue to be offered in subsequent years. In addition, the results from a final exam question based on the field trip content and from a similar question administered one year after the field trip are included in the discussion of student learning and retention of the geomorphic content.

Sample-Lord, K. M., & Smith, V., & Gallagher, P., & Welker, A. L. (2019, June), Using Your Campus as a Laboratory: An Adaptable Field Trip on Geomorphology for Engineering Geology Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33523

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