There have been significant changes in undergraduate civil engineering curricula in the last two decades. Key issues for university curriculum committees are selection and transference of appropriate skills and attributes for students to succeed in the industry. Despite significant changes occurring in teaching theories, civil engineering education still relies heavily on deductive instruction. Case-based teaching is one of the most widespread forms of inductive learning and this paper describes the differences between two of the most familiar types: ‘case-histories’ and ‘case-studies’. These methods are presented using the Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkway collapse as an exemplar. The benefits of using this approach are improved retention of knowledge, better reasoning and analytical skills, development of higher-order skills, greater ability to identify relevant issues and recognize multiple perspectives, higher motivation and awareness of non-technical issues. Many of these outcomes are part of the expected attributes of civil engineers outlined by professional bodies.


This was published in the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering.