Gérard J. Poitras, Eric G. Poitras


Preliminary findings obtained from a three-year study are presented where different cohorts of undergraduate civil engineering students are followed for three consecutive years while completing the Civil Engineering program at the Université de Moncton. This study outlines how a set of problem instances were developed, wherein a student performs a series of steps to formulate a solution. These steps are mapped to one or more skills, also known as procedural knowledge components, which are essential for students to have mastered from one or more previous courses in order to successfully complete the course in question. Over a hundred students from the second, third, or fourth year performed a series of problem-solving tasks that assess a common set of skills at the beginning of their respected courses. The findings obtained from the first year of this study show that students vary in their abilities to correctly solve instances of a problem on their first attempt. This suggests that there is a pressing need for assessment tools that target progressions for specific courses using the range of standards outlined by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board as progress indicators while providing individualized instructional modules developed on the basis of research-based understanding of how these skills develop over time for all students.

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