LEARNING DIFFICULTIES IN BUILDING MEASUREMENT

Building measurement is a course taken by students in construction related programmes. It provides the basic skill required for evaluating the cost of proposed construction work and the calculation of final accounts for work executed. Building measurement is calculation-based and requires great skill in mensuration and a good understanding of design and construction. Competence in building measurement holds great benefits for students and the construction industry at large. Students who have an understanding in the course would likely perform better than those who have difficulties in the course. Furthermore, students who graduate with a proficiency in building measurement would likely be absorbed into the industry to augment existing building economists and replace ageing ones. However, it has been noted that students’ generally have learning difficulties with calculation courses. Hence, the study sets out to identify the learning difficulties encountered by students in building measurement. The study adopted a qualitative research design with the use of in-depth semi structured interviews in order to obtain a full understanding of the difficulties encountered by students in building measurement. Twenty five students of building department from a university in Nigeria were interviewed. Data generated from the interview were tape-recorded, transcribed and then analyzed with the use of the NVivo software. The interviews revealed three sources of learning difficulties namely: lecturer, lecture and learning facilities. The interviewees noted that in some cases the teaching style of the lecturer made it difficult for students to comprehend the course. Students desired that lecturers would not assume that they already possess knowledge but rather teach them step-by-step and not rush over the lecture in a bid to cover up the course outline. The interviews further revealed insufficient examples and non-interactive nature of lectures as lecture sources of learning difficulties. Some of the students noted that examples given in class were not illustrative enough which makes comprehension difficult. The students also desired student – centered - learning that would encourage students’ participation and increase understanding of the course. Lack of exposure to soft wares and indigenous textbooks on building measurement were identified as the learning facilities sources of learning difficulties. Most of the students reported that the use of soft wares would aid in visualizing and understanding the theories of construction process which is needed for building measurement. The interviewees noted that text books written by indigenous people would further increase understanding of the course. The students pointed out that foreign textbooks emphasis the use of certain building fabric that are not used in Nigeria thereby making comprehension a little difficult. Recommendations for improving students learning in building measurement include: site visits, sufficient examples, reference to indigenous textbooks, interactive teaching sessions and use of 3D drawings and videos. Learning difficulties identified in this study would be operationalized in further studies using quantitative research design with well-structured questionnaire to determine the extent of learning difficulties in building measurement among students of other higher institutions in Nigeria.