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Work in Progress: Using Outcomes-Based Assessment in an Introductory Structural Engineering Course

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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 Techniques in Structural Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1393.1 - 24.1393.27



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Paper Authors


Matthew W. Roberts University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Matthew Roberts has been teaching at UW-Platteville since 2002. He is originally from Denver, Colorado and attended Brigham Young University for his B.S. in Civil Engineering. He then spent four years as a civil engineering officer in the U.S. Air Force. After his military service, he completed graduate work at Texas A&M University. He teaches classes on reinforced concrete design, structural steel design, and other structural engineering topics.

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Angela Marie Jones University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Angela Jones teaches First-Year English Composition / Rhetoric and Research Writing at UW-Platteville and adds Screenwriting to the above courses at the University of Dubuque. She has worked as a Technical Writer & Editor at ENGEO, a geotechnical engineering company in San Ramon, CA. She takes special care to uphold brevity in most writing instances, and has led a writing workshop for engineers and geologists that tackles wordiness and related style issues.

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Michael K. Thompson University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Keith Thompson is an associate professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville where he teaches courses in structural design and structural mechanics. He earned his BS from North Carolina State University and his MS and PhD degrees from the University of Texas at Austin where he performed research on precast, segmental concrete bridge behavior and on anchorage of headed reinforcement. His current interests are in engineering education curriculum reform, learning analytics, and methods for improving student retention.

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Work in Progress: An Innovative Introductory Structural Engineering CourseA new introductory structural engineering course has been developed at [institution]. The coursefollows Mechanics of Materials in the structures curriculum, where a traditional curriculummight typically provide a structural analysis course. While this course does introduce methodsof structural analysis, it does so in the context of structural materials (steel, reinforced concrete,and timber) and design so as to remove the unnatural distinction between analysis and design.In addition to the innovative design of the course, the grading of the course is also of note.Grades are not determined based on a typical “points” system. Instead, an outcomes-basedgrading scheme is used in which students must demonstrate mastery of specific concepts in orderto pass the class. Mastery of additional outcomes beyond these specific concepts leads to ahigher grade in the class. This grading scheme was adopted to help meet the following goals: 1. Creating a more holistic approach to teaching the material 2. Ensuring that core competencies for follow-on courses are met 3. Better defining the differences in grades based on student competency 4. Distinguishing content for general civil engineering students as compared to students with a structural engineering emphasis, and 5. Simplifying assessment for ABET and departmental purposes—passing the class indicates attainment by students of important curricular outcomes.The paper will provide the following: • A literature review of outcomes-based assessment in other contexts • A summary of the design and implementation of the course • An explanation of the outcomes-based grading scheme • Assessments from the first offering of the course using results of focus groups and student surveys • Plans for future assessment of the course goalsBy presenting this work in progress we hope to elicit feedback from participants on futuredirections for the course and evaluation methods to determine the extent to which the class meetsthe goals we have set.

Roberts, M. W., & Jones, A. M., & Thompson, M. K. (2014, June), Work in Progress: Using Outcomes-Based Assessment in an Introductory Structural Engineering Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23326

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