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Changing University Student Perceptions of Freight Transportation

Publication: Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice (American Society of Civil Engineers)
Volume: 140
Publication Date: 2013

This study examines civil engineering students’ perceptions of freight transportation and its impacts on the environment and society. Research and anecdotal evidence suggests students enter into the field of transportation because they want to improve systems that impact the environment and/or society, and despite freight transportation’s increasing momentum as an emerging industry and research path, freight is often perceived as counter to sustainability, focused solely on profitability, and thus not as appealing to transportation students. This paper investigates whether increased exposure to and knowledge of freight transportation can change students’ perceptions of the field by either illustrating the potential for future environmental and sustainability gains within freight transportation or by illustrating the relationships between freight transportation and other contemporary transportation issues. Perceptions of students who took introductory freight transportation classes at several universities were measured using precourse and postcourse surveys to help better understand the influence of increased knowledge in freight transportation. Results indicate that after students have taken an introductory freight class, they more strongly agreed that there are sustainability improvements and gains to be had within freight transportation. Additionally, students made stronger connections between freight transportation and contemporary freight transportation issues after taking a freight class. These findings indicate that introductory freight transportation courses are useful in helping students understand the importance of and develop an interest in freight transportation.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Kelly Pitera
Recommended Citation:
Pitera, K., & Goodchild, A. (2013). Changing university student perceptions of freight transportation. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, 140(1), 04013009.