Assignment for Geotechnical Engineering

Developing a Project Based Learning Assignment
for Geotechnical Engineering


The current ways of engineering education area unit beneath important pressure to reform. Increasing complaints from business relating to graduates being inadequately ready, high failure rates among most engineering programs, and results from variety of engineering education analysis studies showing issues with ancient teaching methods; this can be forcing a push towards completely different approaches. In Associate in Nursing college boy geotechnical engineering course at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), a project-based learning (PBL) assignment has been developed and used for the past 3 years. it's for slope stability and bearing capability issues revolving around a true life building collapse in Shanghai in 2009. throughout this assignment, students area unit tasked with decisive the reason behind collapse victimization pc software package, and presenting it in a very technical report. Feedback from students has been positive, and samples of this are provided. This paper describes the event of this assignment, with each the benefits and also the challenges.


Changes within the demographics of universities that have emerged over the past twenty years area unit forcing a modification to teaching ways. the proportion of individuals about to university is far higher (Biggs and tang, 2011). With the restricted time accessible in a very semester, it's necessary to seek out higher ways that to have interaction students. ever-changing technology, increasing reliance on computers and software package, and expectations of scholars and business area unit completely different (Quintela and Santana, 2007). wherever students accustomed use textbooks and libraries, they currently use the net. everybody expects to be able to use a pc, or maybe a smartphone, and results area unit expected over a way shorter amount.

Geotechnical engineering is complicated, and enhanced reliance is being placed on numerical modelling, each in analysis and in observe. Uncertainty may be a elementary drawback in geotechnical engineering, each with the pure mathematics and material parameters needed. ancient ‘chalk and talk’ ways are found lacking by Felder (1988) United Nations agency found that it's too inflexible, and also the quantity of scholars that were responding poorly was increasing as additional folks were about to university. this can be in keeping with blue blood and Felder (2007) United Nations agency state that student central ways, wherever the workers answer students, were shown to be simpler as critical teacher central ways wherever students answer the teacher.

One of these ways is Project based mostly Learning (PBL). this can be said as Associate in Nursing integrated approach to teaching, during which students learn the desired material within the course of a sensible drawback. this can be critical the normal deductive methodology, wherever students area unit educated fundamentals and analytical approaches, and so move onto applying them to textbook issues. The important distinction between the 2 is that the motivation and enthusiasm that the scholar feels towards the content. within the integrated approach, the idea and background is brought in PRN for the matter, and therefore the scholar is ready to attach to the fabric higher (Felder, 2012).

When combined with fashionable technology it should seem a really fashionable approach. However, the idea that folks learn best through active engagement is sort of previous, and is usually attributable to philosophers philosopher and philosopher. Its relevancy to fashionable universities is usually attributable to Dewey (2007), United Nations agency suggested additional interactive approaches to engineering teaching. whereas praise of PBL is fairly widespread, unsuccessful implementation will result in terribly high student disapproval if the matter is inappropriate, and/or the desired theory and background data isn’t easier enough to access. the issue of making an appropriate assignment dissuades several workers, notably within the engineering space wherever the potential gains are literally terribly high.

The objective of this paper is to demonstrate the victorious development of a PBL assignment into Associate in Nursing college boy geotechnical engineering course at USQ. there's demand for various assessment of geotechnical engineering as a result of its quality, and also the ought to be realistic and relevant for its business, and additionally as a result of poor performance of different assessment ways.


In a ancient assignment, students could also be given a really basic ‘textbook’ version of a haul, like that shown in Figure one. this can need the utilization of a procedure and formulae educated at school, by hand or by the utilization of a customary computer programme, or presumably terribly basic usage of software package to resolve.

One of the issues here is that geotechnical engineering deals with a high level of uncertainty, wherever judgment and simplifications oft ought to be created so as to be able to turn out an answer. These issues even have no context, and then students may be left curious what the linkage is to real style and construction. Students will solely see the “trees”, however not the forest. Besides, students don't seem to be able to expertise that necessary a part of technical writing expertise.

Assignment for Geotechnical Engineering


A novel PBL assignment was developed for CIV3403 Geotechnical Engineering at USQ. The idea behind the event and also the needed method is as follows:
Pick a haul that has relevancy to the content and issue of the course.
It should have enough data for college students to analysis.
The software package should be accessible and straightforward enough to find out to try to to the matter before the maturity date.
There should be enough ‘room’ within the drawback for HD students to attain higher than A students.

The developed one-page assignment given to students is given below:

At around 5:30am on June twenty seven 2009, Associate in Nursing unoccupied 13-storey building within the Minhang district of Shanghai town toppled over killing one employee.

Assignment for Geotechnical Engineering

It was reported within the Wall Street Journal that: “According to the Shanghai Daily, initial investigations attributed the accident to the excavations for the development of a garage beneath the folded building. giant quantities of earth were removed and drop in a very lowland next to a close-by creek; the load of the world caused the stream bank to collapse, which, in turn, allowed water to flow into the bottom, making a muddy foundation for the building that toppled.”

A team of specialists and governing body examined the reason behind collapse and ready a report that was created accessible from CIV3403 Study table. it had been noted that a theoretical analysis wasn't enclosed within the report.

The appointed task was to conduct slope stability analyses victimization pc software package Slope/W or/and FLAC/Slope and prepare a technical report back to support the ultimate outcome of investigation.


Students were supplied with a comprehensive rubric that was to be accustomed mark the assignments, this has been provided in Table A1. This matrix known the most headings, like presentation, analysis and theory, and assignment necessities, and embarked on beneath fifteen subheadings, the degree of come back which might justify a grade of HD, A, B, C or F. This clearly told the scholars the degree of effort workers were expecting. an entire marking rubric may be found within the appendix of this paper.

Other than this little data concerning the matter was given, and therefore the primary step was for the scholars to redefine the matter in terms that created it resolvable among the restrictions of their data and also the accessible software package. Associate in Nursing example of this can be shown in Figure 3.
Assignment for Geotechnical Engineering
This needed a considerable quantity of analysis on the pure mathematics and properties of the vacant lot, soil properties, and groundwater conditions. several aspects of those needed assumptions and simplifications to be created, and therefore there was no absolute correct answer.

As incontestible within the marking rubric within the Appendix, marks were awarded for:
  • The quality of the matter definition and its justification.
  • The approach with that they were attempting to resolve the problem.
  • The quality of the pc modeling; and
  • The quality and organization of the technical report.


As could be expected, a large vary of quality of assignments was submitted, with quite one hundred fifty scripts in every of 3 years. still because the report from the Shanghai Daily, variety of different newspaper reports area unit accessible on the net, and a standard thread among several was sensational news for optimum news profit, with a frequent lack of technical justification. it had been necessary for the scholars to be able to sift through these, and extract the helpful factual knowledge while not being biased by the unsupported conclusions.

Since 1st setting the assignment, some authoritative technical publications have appeared on constant subject, thus it had been additionally necessary for college students to assimilate these, however to not steal the results and conclusions, typically from additional advanced software package than they'd accessible.

Responses ranged from concerning twelve to over one hundred pages, with one or 2 every year failing to submit an affordable effort, however the overwhelming majority having a good go. The PBL approach additionally highlighted some elementary misunderstandings amongst the scholars, and one in all the foremost common arose from the confusion encompassing undrained shear strength, “undrained cohesion”, and apparent cohesion. Loose language and use of symbols in printed papers was a significant contributor, which might not have an effect on those well versed in geotechnical engineering, however may be a entice that simply ensnares those still engaged within the learning method.

Another similar drawback oft arose due to the special use that we have a tendency to, as geotechnical engineers, have given to words that occur in everyday use. this can be notably true of drained behavior, and saturated soils. Students might not truly scan all the text book material appointed to them, notice it laborious to grasp however a soil may be at the same time saturated and drained. Aspects like this created marking quite troublesome, as a result of it's thus elementary to future|the next|the following} analysis that failure to know these ideas makes most of any subsequent analysis empty.

Since there aren't any “exact answers”, it's necessary for markers to scan each script, that takes significant time and energy. With over one hundred fifty assignments to mark in a very short amount, it's additionally been essential to share the work. suggests that ought to be found to confirm that a standardized theme is being applied. The theme that we've got used has been supported a computer programme, during which the marks appointed by the Course Moderator to every of the most headings, area unit split in step with Associate in Nursing united coefficient between every of the sub-headings. every side is then judged against the elaborated criteria set for every sub-heading, and a numerical score determined. Adding these resulted in a very grade achieved for every main heading, and afterwards a grade achieved for the assignment. it had been found that, once variety of assignments were allotted to every marker, such as 40, there was glorious agreement between markers within the vary and distribution of grades awarded. This gave confidence that consistent standards were being set and achieved.


USQ encompasses a feedback procedure whereby students area unit able to offer feedback on-line. queries that area unit asked embrace commenting on effective and ineffective aspects of the course, still as general suggestions for the course.

Positive Responses
I am operating {in a|during a|in an exceedingly|in a terribly} very active geotechnical surroundings, and also the comments area unit terribly positive from my skilled geotechnical colleague : seniors, juniors and a Ph.D.

The assignment was nice, that helped Maine with understanding the course material higher, and issues were realistic. It’s nice expertise to form the association between theories and also the real life situation, that gave Maine a style of my future career.

For a subject matter that i believed i might simply ‘do’ and check out and pass to induce it out of the means, I terminated up extremely enjoying this subject. and that i have additionally found myself desperate to perceive these areas additional and desperate to investigate the areas in my very own time. I currently have Associate in Nursing interest in it!

Over all i believe this course was fantastic. I truly keep in mind the contents of the assignments and that i truly understood them! i believe back to such a big amount of different courses and that i do not keep in mind hardly anything to try to to with the assignments!

Negative Responses
Trying to find out the geotechnical packages was a trifle laborious, want a session dedicated to introducing the software package.

Assignment a pair of wants a trifle additional direction. It had sensible intentions, and whereas i do know it had been meant to check student’s ability for analysis and drawback determination, i used to be forever a trifle confused.


A PBL assignment has been developed for Associate in Nursing college boy geotechnical engineering course. This assignment follows Associate in Nursing integrated approach wherever students area unit given a sensible drawback and learn the desired topics of a customary geotechnical course within the method of determination it. Students learn geotechnical fundamentals and ideas, the method of drawback definition, technical writing, and area unit introduced to the commercially used software package packages.

The challenges in putting in place this kind of assignment area unit considerable: finding an appropriate drawback that fulfils the desired conditions isn’t straightforward, initial student disapproval may be dissuading, and marking may be additional long. Despite this, it's suggested for geotechnical teaching because it is additional appropriate and relevant than ancient room teaching. Student feedback and response from the course has been terribly positive. it's additional participating for the scholar, and additional satisfying for the workers.

  1. Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university: What the student does. McGraw-Hill Education (UK). 
  2. Quintela, A., & Santana, T. (2007). Teaching geotechnical works using professional practice. Paper presented at the Proceedings, International Conference on Engineering Education (ICEE), Coimbra, Portugal. 
  3. Felder, R. M., & Silverman, L. K. (1988). Learning and teaching styles in engineering education. Engineering education, 78(7), 674-681. 
  4. Prince, M., & Felder, R. (2007). The many faces of inductive teaching and learning. Journal of College Science Teaching, 36(5), 14. 
  5. Felder, R. M. (2012). Engineering Education: a Tale of two paradigms. Shaking the Foundations of Geoengineering Education, Bryan McCabe (Editor), Marina Pantazidou (Editor), Declan Phillips (Editor), 9-14. 
  6. Dewey, J. (2007). “Experience and Education”. Simon and Schuster. 
  7. Wall Street Journal, Asia.
Share This :

Artikel terkait : Assignment for Geotechnical Engineering

Posting Lebih Baru Posting Lama

0 komentar: