Positioning students to understand urban sustainability strategies through vertical integration: Years one through four Conference

Elzomor, M, Parrish, K. (2017). Positioning students to understand urban sustainability strategies through vertical integration: Years one through four . 2017-June

cited authors

  • Elzomor, M; Parrish, K


  • Commonly-adopted engineering pedagogy tends to be lecture-based, and places students in a passive and predominantly secondary role (Hung et al., 2003). Research in the field of engineering education also highlights the ineffectiveness of such strategies and strongly advocates that faculty adopt advanced education strategies that actively engage learners. Citing medical education as an example, engineering education research suggests problem-based learning and vertical integration as two key strategies that will assist in facilitating the active engagement of learners. This pedagogical implementation presents the progress from years one through four of an NSF TUES (Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM) project that assesses the effectiveness of a vertically integrated problem-based learning (PBL) framework developed and implemented at "Arizona State University". The authors' framework integrates a lower-division construction management course, Construction Materials, Methods and Equipment (CON 252) and an upper-division civil engineering course, Urban Infrastructure Anatomy and Sustainable Development (CEE 507). The courses both address sustainability, and that provides a theme for vertical integration activities. The goal of introducing sustainability concepts is two-fold: to enhance undergraduate students' interest in and understanding of sustainability by engaging them in real-world sustainability projects; and to provide students with necessary knowledge for advancing a career in sustainability within Civil and Construction Engineering and Management (CCEM). This paper summarizes the progress and accomplishments of the project during years one through four, documenting the lessons learned each year and describing the vertical integration PBL framework developed throughout the project. Framework development follows a continuous improvement process, and it is updated according to student feedback, feedback from the project evaluators, and the impressions of the instructors. Upper division students recognized the parallels between the vertical integration and future professional collaborations with lessexperienced team members. They also report being able to teach useful concepts and skills, such as citing sources, to lower division students. Finally, they understood the value of interacting with less-skilled individuals for developing their management skills. It is worth noting that the lower division students demonstrated improvements in their interdisciplinary interaction confidence skills as well.

publication date

  • June 24, 2017


  • 2017-June