Interdisciplinary case-based teaching of engineering geosciences and geotechnics

Thomas Ingeman-Nielsen (Invited author), Hans Peter Christensen (Invited author)

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The complete restructuring of the 4-year Professional Bachelor programme in Arctic Technology at the Technical University of Denmark in 2007 has provided the perfect framework for implementing CDIO-based courses with focus on a holistic and interdisciplinary approach. In this paper we present our experiences over four years teaching one such course, 11821 Site Investigations. The goal is to teach the students to conduct site investigations in connection with construction work in arctic areas. It covers technical skills and competences from several different branches of engineering in an interdisciplinary course. Course elements comprise the understanding of relevant geological processes and deposits, tools to examine and map these deposits, as well as the use of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to collect and organize spatial information. Environmental aspects and cultural heritage screenings are also covered as well as group work and report writing. The course is constructed around a real world case, e.g. the construction of a specific road segment, and the students have to produce a realistic site investigation report based on field and laboratory investigations as well as theoretical considerations. The interdisciplinary structure of the course combined with the real-world case and just-in- time teaching applied has resulted in more motivated and hard working students, and as teachers we receive better and more interesting reports to read. However, the inter- disciplinary and practically oriented nature of the course poses special demands on teachers and instructors. Among these are more complex coordination among course elements, and difficult adaption of the curriculum. Based on written and oral feedback and our own teaching experience, we conclude that the new course form is an efficient and challenging way to teach engineering with good learning outcome over a broad spectrum of the CDIO syllabus.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th International CDIO Conference
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
Publication date2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event7th International CDIO Conference - Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 20 Jun 201123 Jun 2011
Conference number: 7


Conference7th International CDIO Conference
LocationTechnical University of Denmark
Internet address


  • Interdisciplinary
  • Real-world case
  • Geoscience teaching
  • Just-in-time teaching
  • Personal and interpersonal competences


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