Teaching Aids

TEACHING RESOURCES: Geotech CAT-Apps for building critical thinking skills

Funded by USUCGER through the Special Projects Program. Created by Dr. Daniel VandenBerge, Tennessee Technological University

The Critical-thinking Assessment Test (CAT) is an internationally recognized instrument for assessing critical thinking. Thirteen CAT-App questions were developed by this project. Each question includes a problem statement and three to four prompts. Anticipated student responses are provided for each question in three categories: strong, average, and weak. These responses are an initial draft and may be improved as the CAT-Apps are used and actual student responses are received. A suggested rubric is provided for each question. A presentation on the project will be given at the USUCGER 2022 Annual Meeting.

The prompts, anticipated responses, and rubrics are provided as separate Word documents or compressed file. Click Here for Link To File Folder

TEACHING RESOURCES: USUCGER 2020 Geotechnical Engineering Faculty Teaching Strategies & Resources Workshop

Funded by the National Science Foundation. Organized by Dr. Kristin Sample-Lord (Villanova), Dr. Gretchen Bohnhoff (UW-Platteville), and Dr. Patricia Gallagher (Drexel).

The resources in the links below are from the USUCGER 2020 Geotechnical Engineering Faculty Teaching Strategies & Resources Workshop. The primary goal of the workshop was to help geotechnical faculty at all stages become more effective and efficient teachers, so they can become better educators and improve student learning without compromising research time. The focus of the workshop was very specific to geotechnical engineering education and the courses that most geotechnical engineering faculty teach, such as undergraduate soil mechanics, foundation engineering, and engineering geology. One objective was to provide attendees with tools and resources that were specific, manageable, and useful for their own courses. A selection of these resources is provided here. A second objective was to create an exam question repository for typical undergraduate geotechnical engineering courses. The exam questions and solutions contributed by the workshop participants were meant for use in undergraduate geo-engineering courses. The original submissions from the workshop participants were compiled and are available here.

Teaching Resources: biogeotechnics Education & Outreach Materials

The NSF-funded Center for Biomediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics (CBBG) has developed a series of modules on biogeotechnics for K-12 and University.  All lessons have been vetted by CBBG faculty and have been piloted in actual classrooms.  USUCGER members are free to use as is or modify these lessons for their own purposes.  We simply ask that they acknowledge the source material that came from CBBG.

There is a PowerPoint lesson developed by CBBG faculty for first year “Introduction to Civil Engineering” courses here:


There are 36 lesson plans developed by K-12 teachers in the CBBG Research Experience for Teachers program, classified by Elementary, Middle school, and High school level. here:


Teaching Resources: Library of Group Activities that Promote Active Learning in the Undergraduate Soil Mechanics Classroom

Funded by USUCGER through the Special Projects program. Created by Dr. Kristin Sample-Lord (Villanova University) and Dr. Gretchen Bohnhoff (University of Wisconsin-Platteville)

A “grab-and-go” set of education geotechnical activities with Word/PDF files to allow for instructor editing. Sixteen different activities were developed with the help of undergraduate students at both VU and UW-Platteville. The materials for each activity include: (1) a summary sheet for the instructor with learning objectives and instructions; (2) the activity handout to provide to the students; (3) the solution set; (4) an example rubric for the activity; and (5) supplemental information, if applicable. All files are provided in Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and/or PDF formats to allow for easy editing. The required in-class time for the activities ranges from as short as one to two minutes to 50 minutes, to allow for flexibility in implementing the activities in existing courses. All of the activities are meant for small informal groups. The recommended number of group members ranges from two to five, allowing for use in a range of class sizes. The activities also vary widely in their format (e.g. “typical” quantitative problems, group jigsaws, concept questions/discussion, group presentations, calculation QA/QC) to complement different teaching styles. Please provide feedback regarding this set of activities in a brief survey.

Click Here for Link To Library Folder

Teaching Resources: introductory course on Geoenvironmental Engineering

Credit: Dr. Krishna Reddy


The objective of this short course is to provide appropriate resources and prepare the attendees to teach an introductory course on geoenvironmental engineering as an undergraduate or a graduate course in civil engineering, environmental engineering, or geotechnical engineering programs. The topics that are covered in this short course include: (1) Challenges in teaching geoenvironmental engineering courses; (2) Relevant course content; (3) Course syllabus; (4) Teaching resources (e.g., textbook, homework questions, projects, and exams); (5) Example lecture PPTs; and (6) Questions/discussion. Please e-mail Prof. Krishna Reddy at kreddy@uic.edu if you have any comments or questions.

Teaching Resources: Course Notes for Dynamic Response of Soil and Soil-Foundation Systems

Original Credit: Prof. Ricardo Dobry; Contact: Prof. Mourad Zeghal at RPI


Course Lecture Notes for RPI CIVL 6540 “Dynamic Response of Soil and Soil-Foundation Systems”. These Notes correspond to the course on Dynamic Response of Soil and Soil-Foundation Systems, taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, USA, by Prof. Ricardo Dobry. Professor Dobry taught the course at RPI in the Spring semester, most years since his arrival in 1977 until his retirement in 2020, that is a period of more than 40 years. It was addressed mostly to geotechnical and structural Master and PhD students. The course was originally Soil Dynamics, with the name later changed to Dynamic Response of Soil and Soil-Foundation Systems (DRSSFS). Since Prof. Dobry’s retirement, Prof. Mourad Zeghal has been teaching the course at RPI using the Notes and is in charge of the material including possible future modifications. Please send any correction or suggestion related to the Notes to Prof. Mourad Zeghal at zeghal@rpi.edu.

Teaching Resources: introductory course on Sustainable Engineering

Credit: Dr. Krishna Reddy


This short course was taught at the 2nd International Conference on Environmental Geotechnologies, Recycled Waste Materials, and Sustainable Engineering held at the University of Illinois at Chicago during June 16-20, 2019. Course Purpose: There has been growing urgency of incorporating sustainability in engineering curricula. The concept of sustainability is most commonly and broadly interpreted at global, national, regional and city scales. There have been limited efforts on addressing sustainability in engineering design projects. Recently, the instructors wrote a textbook with the same title of this short course to aid the instructors to teach a course on sustainable engineering or incorporate the concepts of sustainability in existing courses. This short course highlights the current challenges in incorporating sustainability in curricula, presents the content of the new textbook, and offers guidance on selecting topics, preparing syllabus, and teaching a course on sustainable engineering in vivid engineering disciplines. Please e-mail Prof. Krishna Reddy at kreddy@uic.edu if you have any comments or questions.

Teaching Resources: OTHER Recommended Websites

Science Education Resource Center (Carleton College): http://serc.carleton.edu/index.html

SERC has an extensive collection of on-line teaching resources and peer-reviewed activities that can be incorporated into a variety of geotechnical engineering, geology, geohazards, and earthquake engineering courses. Materials typical include a description, teaching materials, teaching notes and tips, the context for use, learning outcomes, assessment guidance, and references. Some activities are stand-alone, while others are integrated modules that can be used individually or in sequence.

Engineering Geology and Site Characterization Educational Resources Developed by Committee Members: https://www.geoinstitute.org/committees/technical-committees/engineering-geology-and-site-characterization 

Educational Modules on Engineering Geology: 6 modules on engineering geology, rock properties and engineering characterization, site characterization, geologic mapping, and geologic hazards developed by Thomas Oommen, Sajin Kumar Kochappi Sathyan, Nick Hudyma, Roch Player, Mala Ciancia, and Anna Shidlovskaya

Training Materials on In Situ Testing: SPT video and Power Point slides developed by Paul Mayne

Geoengineer.org Education Section

Provides useful resources (texts, notes, slides, videos, photos) grouped under a wide variety of geotechnical related topics. You can use the search functionality to find content related to the specific topic you are interested in. We are also continuously adding additional content, including the one that has been posted recently. If you want us to host any of your content in a permanent place, let us know. We will be glad to do it.

DATA: Case Western Database


The Case Western Data Base contains over 234 tests conducted on three different sands, in dense and loose conditions, with a wide variety of stress paths. More than half of the tests are on hollow cylinders, the rest on cubical samples. In addition, the Data Base contains the results of 18 tests on Edga Plastic Kaolin clay and the results of 8 tests on Hydrite121 clay; both series conducted on thin hollow cylinders. Researchers can use the data base to validate their constitutive relations.

Free Recorded Lectures: Intro to Geotechnical Engineering with Dr. Jean-Louis Briaud (for undergrad student audience)

Available on the USUCGER Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLVrTJB9X2Zi66oln06_rw 

This playlist is a helpful resource for those teaching introductory geotechnical engineering courses and/or looking for ways to include more case histories in their curriculum. Dr. Jean-Louis Briaud shared the full set of 26 fifty-minute recorded lectures from his introductory course to geotechnical engineering. The first 12 lectures start with a 10-15 minute case history to get the students interested in geotech. The related lecture concepts are presented as a concise set of notes on the whiteboard after each case study. All of the videos are available as a playlist on the USUCGER YouTube channel, which can be found here, or simply by googling USUCGER YouTube.

Free Recorded Lectures: IntroDUCTION to Geotechnical Engineering (for undergrad student audience)

Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyt3w3SogxUSJ7RSxQusXXA/about 

Webcasts for an introductory course in Geotechnical engineering. These materials are designed to align with the text “Geotechnical Engineering: Principles and Practices” 3rd edition by Coduto, Yeung & Kitch (Pearson, 2011, ISBN: 0-13-236868-4). The webcasts were developed for CE 325/326: Geotechnical Engineering I & II at Cal Poly Pomona, and CENG 3341: Introduction to Geotechnical Engineeirng at Angelo State University but can be used for any introductory geotechnical engineering course. Playlists are organized by chapters in the text book which is abbreviated CYK (2011).

Free Recorded Lectures: intro to geosynthetics for undergrad students

Free video presentations and slides from the Educate the Educators program of the International Geosynthetics Society. Intended for undergraduate student audience.

There are four short video presentations that make up a one-hour “Introduction to Geosynthetics” lecture, designed to give students an overview of geosynthetics, their different types, and their functions.  The lecture is delivered by Prof. Jorge G. Zornberg, from the University of Texas at Austin, USA, and former president of the IGS. The PDF and PPT versions of the slides for the lecture are also provided.

Link to videos and PDF of slides: https://www.geosyntheticssociety.org/ete-introduction-geosynthetics-students/ 

Link to companion website and form to request PPT version of the slides: https://www.geosyntheticssociety.org/ete-introduction-educators/

Link to other videos from the IGS University Lecture Series: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt-N4NlX6xkbYc5F8Z6Md_g/videos

FREE Recorded Lectures: Geotechnical Engineering Lectures (Youtube channel uSeeGeo, undergrad audience)



FREE RECORDED LAB TESTS: Undergrad audience

Online Laboratory Tests: Youtube videos of Soil Mechanics Laboratory Tests that are taught at METU Civil Engineering Department to 3rd year undergraduate students as part of Soil Mechanics (CE363) course. Students carry out lab tests in groups and prepare lab reports. (Credit: Nejan Huvaj, METU)

Sieve Analysis : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_q1rmwCqfM&t=186s 
Hydrometer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78sKJKsaUvY&t=305s 
Atterberg Limits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxh3kMGt9h0&t=2s 
Specific Gravity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3gAuLIdFww 
Proctor Compaction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuKrKRcohYo&t=163s 
Dry Density: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkSXItdWTIE 
Constant Head Permeability: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVpvRL6BvD4 
Laboratory Vane Test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv3j-ZSQV3c 
Direct Shear Test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLI9SSv2GIg 
Consolidation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRoA-4qEHWA 
UU Triaxial Compression Test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6rOuysQuZU&t=2s 


Free Educational Webinars: International Geoenvironmental Webinar Series (for graduate student audience)


This is a series of free recorded geoenvironmental engineering webinars from professors and practitioners from around the world. The talks are targeted to a graduate student audience (MS and PhD) interested in pursuing geoenvironmental engineering research. The topics span all areas of geoenvironmental engineering. For questions, contact the webinar series organizer, Professor Krishna Reddy of University of Illinois Chicago (kreddy@uic.edu).



This is a series of free recorded webinars from professors and practitioners on engineering with geosynthetics. The talks are targeted to professionals and graduate students.

SOFTWARE: Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Software Directory


If you are looking for software for teaching or research, check out this Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Software Directory (GGSD). The GGSD catalogues more than 1,700 programs in the fields of Geotechnical Engineering, Soil Mechanics, Rock Mechanics, Engineering Geology, Foundation Engineering, Hydrogeology, Geoenvironmental Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Data Analysis and Data Visualisation.

SOFTWARE: Virtual Simulator for Advanced Geotechnical Laboratory Testing


SOFTWARE: Geotech: geotechnical engineering software package in R

From Dr. James Kaklamanos, Merrimack College: In this project, we composed a geotechnical engineering software package within the statistical language and environment R.  The software package, aptly named geotech, has the capability to perform a range of geotechnical engineering computations, and is freely available for use in the geotechnical engineering field.  An additional benefit of R is the wide availability of add-on user-contributed software codes, referred to as “packages,” which perform calculations in specific areas of study.  The geotech package is a compilation of functions for performing calculations and creating plots that commonly arise in geotechnical engineering and soil mechanics, and is the first R package to provide broad coverage in this area.  The types of calculations that are currently included are: (1) phase diagrams and index parameters, (2) grain-size distributions, (3) plasticity, (4) soil classification, (5) compaction, (6) groundwater, (7) subsurface stresses (geostatic and induced), (8) Mohr circle analyses, (9) consolidation settlement and rate, (10) shear strength, (11) bearing capacity, (12) lateral earth pressures, (13) slope stability, and (14) subsurface explorations.  Geotechnical engineering students, educators, researchers, and practitioners will find this package useful. For additional information, please visit https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/geotech/index.html and http://www.kaklamanos.com/software, and refer to the project final summary report and presentation