Commonly adopted engineering pedagogy tends to be lecture based, and places students in a passive and often secondary role in the classroom. Research in the field of engineering education highlights the ineffectiveness of such strategies and advocates adopting strategies that actively engage learners. Various pedagogical techniques promote student engagement; this paper focuses on two specific techniques: problem-based learning (PBL) and vertical integration. The authors created engaging classroom environments through vertically integrated courses that implemented PBL through shared course projects. Specifically, the authors created a framework for pairing two different student bodies across two disciplines, integrating a graduate civil engineering course (32 students) and an undergraduate construction management course (22 students). Implementation of the Spring 2016 framework improves student performance on course projects and students' self-reported professional skill level and confidence in said skills, developed in part through participation in the framework. Further, the framework has a positive impact on undergraduate students' intention to stay in their major and both student bodies report more interest in completing an additional advanced degree after participating in the vertically integrated courses. Finally, students report that the experience teaches professional skills they expect will be required in their own future careers. It is notable that undergraduates recognized more benefits of this implementation, especially that they have more potential for improvement than advanced graduate students. This paper contributes to the engineering education body of knowledge by delivering a proof of concept that PBL through vertical integration of different disciplines across undergraduate and graduate students supports improved performance and encourages professional skill development and confidence. The paper presents the framework itself, as well as evaluative results from framework implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04018009
JournalJournal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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