University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 229-238
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.0175
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a methodology that organizes learning using projects, defined as complex tasks, based on challenging questions or problems, which involve students in design, problem-solving, decision-making or investigative activities; and give students the opportunity to work relatively autonomously in order to culminate in realistic products. Civil engineers must deal with infrastructure projects everyday during their career. They may develop them as a designer, make them real as a construction site manager or control the specifications to assure their quality as a representative of the Administration in charge of the project. Therefore, the teaching staff of the “Transport Infrastructure” subject of the B. Sc in Civil Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering Bilbao of the University of the Basque Country decided to incorporate this technique to enhance students’ learning, taking advantage of the introduction of the new degrees of Bologna System. Consequently, the traditional teaching methodologies for university studies, teacher-centered, were replaced and new requirements coming from the higher education European degrees were met.

Usually, for road design, professors explain theory and show how to solve exercises in practical lessons, but these exercises have a unique solution prepared in advanced. In order to deploy a more active teaching tool, ideas from PBL were introduced. Students, gathered in groups of two, must develop their own project about the layout of a road taken from a real case and using data from various Administrations. They can project the road following their own criteria, but always respecting applicable regulations. The main part of the project includes the geometric design of the road, based on real traffic data, but it also includes the determination of the pavement structure, including the thickness and material of each layer, and the drainage design. Apart from explaining all the calculation performed, a full collection of plans must be carried out. The project also provides an estimation of the total cost of the works. There all multiple solutions for the same project and all of them can be correct as long as they fulfill the regulations of that area.

The employment of PBL techniques resulted in improvements in road design criteria learning, as reflected in the students’ opinion surveys. Considering the questions referring to the applied methodology, students better evaluated the PBL methodology, employed in new degrees, than the teacher-centered learning method, used in previous degrees. These figures showed that utilizing projects was convenient and successful for road design teaching
Project-Based Learning, new methodologies, active learning, geometric design, roads.