Teaching and Assessment of Innovation and Creativity in Civil Engineering: Why? How? Now!

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


The goal of this paper is to inspire and equip civil engineering educators to integrate creativity and innovation in their teaching practices. Among the six strategic goal statements adopted by the ASCE Board of Direction is “Civil Engineers develop and apply innovative, state-of-the-art practices and technologies.” Engineering education should set the stage for these skills and mindsets. In the recent activity to update the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge (CEBOK3), creativity and innovation was proposed as a new outcome. Ultimately, it was decided to integrate these concepts explicitly into two of the twenty-one outcomes in the CEBOK3: Professional Attitudes (creativity) and Professional Responsibilities (innovation). In addition, these ideas were integrated into the text to help individuals fully understand the outcomes associated with critical thinking and problem solving, breadth in civil engineering areas, design, technical depth, sustainability, communication, teamwork & leadership, and lifelong learning. Rubrics for creativity and innovation in the cognitive and affective domains are provided. Some individuals argue that creativity cannot be taught and/or assessed. However, there are numerous examples that contradict these concerns. Problem based learning, building physical models, the analytic hierarchy process, the KEEN Innovator program, a leaderless classroom approach, and field trips are examples of methods that have been used to teach creativity and innovation. Methods used to assess creativity and innovation in engineering education settings include the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, Purdue Creativity Test, revised Creative Engineering Design Assessment, and the CREAX test. We recommend that educators incorporate innovation and creativity into their teaching, in order to retain the best and brightest students in civil engineering and better prepare future civil engineering professionals.

Publication Title

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition