President's Teaching Scholars Program

Matthew Hallowell

Assistant Professor
University of Colorado Boulder
College of Engineering and Applied Schience
Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering
Construction Engineering and Management Program
UCB 428
1111 Engineering Drive
Boulder, CO 80309-0428
(303) 492-7994

Evaluating a combines andragogical and pedagogical approach to hazard recognition education using virtual teams and agent-based simulations

Central question
Does a combined andragogical and pedagogical instruction strategy facilitated by agent-based simulations improve students’ ability to identify and analyze dynamic construction hazards?

Why is the central question important? Who might build on this work?
Many topics in construction engineering and management education require the development of context in order to achieve inductive, global, and active problem-based learning (McCabe et al. 2000). This pedagogical challenge partially explains the traditional paradigm of sequential, passive, and deductive instruction in this field (Rojas and Dossick 2008). Building on past research, this project explores a novel approach to the integration of research, teaching, and outreach using a combined andragogical and pedagogical instruction strategy. If successful in achieving the stated academic and professional learning objectives, this strategy may serve a new model of research, teaching, and outreach integration that would have broad application across engineering and applied sciences. Thus, it is possible that any academic whose research has professional applications could build on and improve this model.

How will I conduct the investigation?

Overall Strategy - Past research has shown that engineering students learn best when an instructor provides context, a problem statement, learning objectives, verbal instruction with visual aids, and opportunity to practice (Felder 2002). This is different from experienced professionals who learn best by using their own experience to develop context and identify gaps in their knowledge (Knowles et al. 2011). Based on this past education research, the PI believes that there may be a natural synergy in the effective delivery of pedagogical education for undergraduate students and andragogical training for practicing professionals.
The specific strategy to be assessed involves replacing instructor-led problem definition, development of context, and description of learning objectives with a team-based environment where students receive this information by witnessing and participating in the first two steps of the andragogical learning experience. That is, student groups will be led by experienced professionals who impart their contextual knowledge and define the practical problem prior to instruction and training as a means to simultaneously meet their needs as experienced learners and the needs of the students. This strategy has significant potential because it is well known that learning can be enhanced through the process of teaching (Gartner et al. 1971) and that guest speakers with specific and relevant domain knowledge can effectively convey contextual knowledge that increase students’ motivation (Metrejean and Zarzeski 2001).

Sources of evidence and methods employed –Two tools have already been created during past research that will facilitate the assessment of the proposed strategy: a photo bank with known hazard that have been identified by an expert industry panel and a high fidelity agent-based simulation software system. The students and professional participants will complete a pre-test where they are asked to identify salient hazards in a random sample from the photo bank. Once the module is complete, the participants will conduct a post-test on the remaining photos in the bank. The results will be statistically compared to assess the achievement of the primary learning objective: assess a work environment and identify the salient hazards. In order to measure longitudinal achievement of learning objectives hazard recognition data will be automatically captured by the built in measurement and feedback feature of the simulator. The PI will use to his experience in the collaborative and with his mentor to include subjective assessment.

How might you make your work available to others in ways that facilitate scholarly critique and review, and that contribute to thought and practice beyond the local?
First, the results will be shared locally in the CU College of Engineering and Applied Sciences through a white paper distributed to the faculty. Second, following comment from the faculty, a research paper will be prepared for the ASCE Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education. Third, the PI will build on his relationship with the Mountains and Plains Research and Education Research Center by presenting the combined andragogical and pedagogical instruction strategy as a potential model for integration at a bi-annual meeting.

Literature review

This proposal builds on a strong foundation of engineering education research. In particular, the module will be structured using the guidance from Felder (2005) in order to meet the needs of active, inductive, visual, and global learners who are underserved by traditional pedagogy. Additionally, the guidance from Knowles (2011) will be used to structure the andragogical training so that the psychological needs of the professional participants are met. The integration of andragogy and pedagogy will be achieved by using simulations and virtual teams, which have been shown by Korman and Johnston (2011), Rojas and Dossick (2008), and others to be especially effective for delivering instruction and training for complex construction topics. The module will be assessed using a variation of Black’s (1998) objective assessment strategy for outcome-based learning objectives and a systems-oriented approach to longitudinal measurement of achievement of stated learning objectives shown to be effective by McGourty (1999). Fortunately, both will be facilitated by the automated data capture feature in the simulation tool and by the PI’s knowledge of inferential statistics.

What is your record of innovation in teaching and/or the assessment of learning?
In his 4-year academic career, the PI has incorporated innovative strategies into his classes including model building, active simulation exercises, and multi-modal delivery strategies. He has published an article describing a suite of pedagogical innovations and associated assessments in the Journal of Safety, Health, and Environmental Research, which won the 2011 best paper award. His efforts and achievements in engineering education have been recognized by the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Department’s Teaching Award, the John and Mercedes Peebles Innovation in Engineering Education Award, and the American Society of Civil Engineers’ New Faculty Excellence in Engineering Education Award.

Coach and Mentor

My coach and mentor will be Professor Angela Bielefeldt. She has indicated that he is willing and able to hold monthly meetings and attend the required meetings with the PTLC. Professor Bielefeldt has extensive experience with engineering education, the IRB, and has received numerous Department, College, and University education awards. She has also conducted engineering education research on project-based learning, which is relevant to the proposed study. Professor Bielefeldt can be reached at:

If selected, I am willing to serve as a coach or mentor in a future yea

Literature Cited
Black, P.J. and Wiliam, D. (1998). “Inside the Black Box: Raising standards through classroom assessment.” King’s College, London.

Felder, R. M., and Brent, R. (2005). “Understanding student differences.” Journal of Engingeering Educaction, 94(1): 121–130.

Gartner, A., Conway, M. and Riessman, F. (1971). Children teach children: Learning by teaching. Harper & Row, New York, NY.

Korman, T.M. and Johnston, H. (2011). “Enhancing construction and management education using a construciton industry simulation.” Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering,20(1): 38-44.

Knowles, M.S., Holton, E.F., and Swanson, R.A. (2011). The adult learner – the definitive classic in adult education and human resources development, Butterworth-Heinemann, MA.

McGourty, J. (1999). “Four strategies to integrate assessment into engineering educational environment.” Journal of Engineering Education, 17(10): 391-395.

McCabe, B., Ching, K. S., and Rodrigues, S. (2000). “STRATEGY: A construction simulation environment.” Proc., 6th Construction Congress, ASCE, Orlando, Fla., 115–120.

Metrejean, C. and arzeski, M. (2001). “Bring the world to the classroom.” Journal of Accountancy, (19(3): 73-76.

Rojas, E.M. and Dossick, C.S. (2008). “Developing a state-of-the-art facility to support construction research and education: A case study.” Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, 134(1): 67-74.