Impact of sequencing hands-on and theory in a concrete structures design course

Martin Jaeger, Desmond Adair, Abdullah Al-Mughrabi, Mona Reda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The importance of identifying mistakes in concrete design, before a concrete structure is built, requires that engineering students learn to review concrete design as effectively as possible. Although various educational approaches support developing the necessary skills, virtually no empirical study is currently available to compare the effect of a different sequence of hands-on and theory focused learning facilitation. In order to evaluate the learning effectiveness of reviewing concrete designs, experiments were carried out utilizing a pre-test/post-test experiment design with an experimental group (firsthands-on,thentheory)of45students,andacontrolgroup(firsttheory,thenhands-on)of109students.Evidencewas foundfortheassumptionthatafirsthands-onapproachincreaseslearningeffectivenessofreviewingconcretedesignmore significantlythanafirsttheoryapproach.Furthermore,thepositivelearningeffectonstudents,whobeganthecoursewith a hands-on approach, showed a continuing positive effect throughout the ensuing theory focused learning phase. The findings may encourage engineering educators and educational institutions to increase the learning effectiveness of reviewingconcretedesignbybeginningthecoursewithahands-onfocusedlearningapproachbeforefocusingmoreonthe involved theoretical concepts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-186
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Active learning
  • Concrete structures
  • Design review
  • Learning effectiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)

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