Smith Teaching & Learning Grant Paper

January 2022

A requirement for all Architecture and Construction Management majors at WSU (Washington State University) is to take a two-semester course entitled Building Science I & II, CST_M 332 and CST_M 333, respectively. In these courses, fundamental topics are taught and discussed in hopes that the students will utilize the knowledge learned in their future careers. However, lecture formats alone do not suffice when it comes to truly understanding the complexities of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems in buildings. Oftentimes, students require hands-on experiences, field trips, and in-depth projects to fully grasp these intricate concepts. The goals of this research were, first, if the methods of delivery for this course were successful in encouraging student learning and understanding of these critical topics. Secondly, if creating transformative learning and research experiences for both undergraduate students and K-12 students was a successful strategy to advance educational goals and course learning objectives within two programs in the School of Design and Construction (SDC).

The key objectives of the proposal are to (1) (2) develop a robust research experience for undergraduate students in the construction management and architecture disciplines, and (3) engage undergraduate students in community outreach and K-12 teaching.

To achieve these objectives, the PI further developed a robust research project that spanned across two semesters (since the students take the courses sequentially), which leveraged research and outreach to further students’ learning outcomes. Through the development of this two-semester research project, students deepened their understanding of (a) building systems, and (b) STEM fundamentals such as thermodynamics and electricity theory. To create a successful educational and research experience, this project approach specifically leverages three pedagogical theories:

  1. Adult learning,
  2. Experiential learning, and
  3. Learning-by-teaching. (Key components of each are identified in the literature review.)

To comprehensively address these three pedagogical issues, the primary education goal of this proposal was to increase undergraduates’ knowledge of technical building concepts through interdisciplinary research and K-12 outreach and STEM teaching opportunities.

This paper is still in progress but made possible by the Smith Teaching and Learning Grant. Thank you!