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Technical paper: Student-paced learning in site investigation

LR Davison, BEng, CEng, MICE. This paper was first published in GE’s October 1979 edition.

Second year HNC Civil Engineering students at Bristol Polytechnic are given the option of studying either ‘Structural Design and Detailing’ or ‘Site Investigation and Material Testing’. There are two reasons for this option. Firstly these technicians come from all branches of Civil Engineering and Structural Design is nct relevant to all of them, and secondly, it provides a way forward for those who find difficulty with the mathematics of structures. These students have an important role to play in the industry but most of them take HNC because they cannot cope with a traditional undergraduate course.

An experimental resource-based programme has been developed for the Site Investigation part of the course which allows students to work at their own speed and frees the lecturer to act in a tutorial capacity. A scheme of work is provided at the beginning to show what progress needs to be maintained in order to complete the work in the time available, and this is monitored subjectively in the tutorials and objectively by the marks obtained in the assignments and in regular short tests. The principal resources used by this course are soil testing equipment, tape-slide programmes, videotape and hand-outs. 

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