This extended abstract details one instructor’s experience in incorporating hands-on laboratory portion in a junior level civil engineering class, Environmental Engineering. The objective of the change was to help students become more involved and aware of their own learning through active participation so that they can relate to course contents in a better way. The author sought to achieve this through a laboratory structure that 1) required students to reflect on certain topics and device a do-it-yourself experiment to measure certain parameters and 2) provided a level of autonomy by allowing them to choose to work alone or in small groups. The author implemented changes over a period of couple of years and made changes in types of laboratory experiments to suit course contents as well as to promote active and hands-on learning. Students’ participation in various types of labs made the course more interesting and students showed better involvement in class discussion. Instructor reflections and conclusions are included.

Meeting Name

2nd Mid Years Engineering Experience Conference Slump to Jump!, MYEE 2016 (2016: Mar. 30-Apr. 1, College Station, TX)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Autonomy; Hands-On; Laboratory; Active; Do-It-Yourself

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version

Final Version

File Type




Publication Date

01 Apr 2016