Project Rationale

   Most civil engineering programs require an introductory Geotechnical Engineering course that has a required laboratory component. The Geotechnical Engineering course (also referred to as ‘Soil Mechanics’ in some Civil Engineering programs) covers a wealth of information and the fundamental concepts are difficult for undergraduates to grasp using conventional lecture methods. While engineering students are capable of utilizing equations to solve geotechnical problems, they have a difficult time developing a complete comprehension of the equations, fundamental concepts, and the engineering application. The ability to reach higher levels of comprehension is contingent on the mastery at the foundation material. It is important that faculty use diverse teaching methods and encourage students to elevate their level of thinking. This National Science Foundation funded educational research project was designed to create and implement a four semester long, student-centered classroom experience in conjunction with a four semester long evaluation of the effort, conducted by an independent assessment team.