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A Course Improvement Strategy That Works: The Improvement of Student Satisfaction Scores in a Lecture and Laboratory Course Using a Structured Course Modification Methodology

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Division for Experimentation & Lab-oriented Studies Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Tracy L. Yother Purdue Polytechnic Institute

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Tracy L. Yother is a PhD student in Career and Technical Education in the College of Education at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. Ms. Yother currently teaches the undergraduate Powerplant Systems course in the Aeronautical Engineering Technology (AET) program. She possesses a B.S. and M.S. in Aviation Technology. She also holds an airframe and powerplant certificate.

Ms. Yother has 18 years’ experience in the aerospace and defense industry working for companies such as Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Pratt & Whitney. She has held positions in product support, customer support, and program management.

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Mary E. Johnson Ph.D. Purdue Polytechnic Institute Orcid 16x16

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Mary E. Johnson earned her BS, MS and PhD in Industrial Engineering from The University of Texas at Arlington. After 5 years in aerospace manufacturing, Dr. Johnson joined the Automation & Robotics Research Institute in Fort Worth and was program manager for applied research programs. Fourteen years later, she was an Industrial Engineering assistant professor at Texas A&M - Commerce before joining the School of Aviation & Transportation Technology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in 2007 as an Associate Professor. Currently, she is a Professor in SATT and a Co-PI on the FAA Center of Excellence for general aviation research known as PEGASAS and leads engineering efforts in the Air Transport Institute for Environmental Sustainability. Her research interests are aviation sustainability, data driven process improvement, and engine emissions.

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James M. Thom Purdue University

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J. Mark Thom is an Associate Professor at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. He teaches courses in the Aeronautical Engineering Technology program, as well as courses in design analysis. He is a co-director in Purdue’s National Test Facility for fuels and propulsion, and does applied research in fuel and propulsion. He has maintained research interests in propulsion systems and in fuels testing, in areas related to the recruitment of women into aviation. He has worked on methods for re-integrating hands-on skills into engineering and engineering technology education, and in the development of engineering technology in aerospace. He was a team member on an international working group studying inappropriate crew response to engine malfunctions. Prior to coming to Purdue, he was a field engineer for a major aerospace corporation, and worked closely with major airframe and turbine engine OEM’s, a task force examining root causes for propulsion related aircraft accidents in general aviation, and has been a been a principle investigator part of the FAA's Piston Aviation Alternative Fuels reserarch.

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Courses that have been stable for a long time may, after analysis, be found to struggle to meet current assessment and certification requirements. Over time these courses become not only misaligned, but also need to be refreshed with innovations in industry and teaching techniques. As the course struggles, students may become complacent and disenfranchised as well. This paper examines the potential for this effect in an engineering technology program. This specific course is focused on the accessory systems for aircraft engines such as: carburetors, fuel injection systems, magnetos, and propellers. The course consists of lecture and laboratory sections where the lab section of the course uses actual aircraft components as lab equipment for student use. For clarification, these are functional aircraft components manufactured by aircraft equipment suppliers. However, they are non-airworthy and are not for future installation on airworthy aircraft.

This study evaluates the perceptions of students’ experiences in the course using course evaluation surveys before and after three primary changes made to the course: 1) improving the underlying structure and alignment in the course sections through the focus on Federal curriculum requirements for powerplant certification, and ABET-ETAC outcomes, 2) increasing productive and clear applicability to course outcomes in student time on equipment in the laboratory, and 3) increase student feedback opportunities. Implementation of the changes to the course have been made by following a structured methodology.

There has been an improvement in the students’ perceptions of the course. After incorporation of the course modifications that have been identified by following the methodology, student satisfaction evaluation scores doubled.

Yother, T. L., & Johnson, M. E., & Thom, J. M. (2018, June), A Course Improvement Strategy That Works: The Improvement of Student Satisfaction Scores in a Lecture and Laboratory Course Using a Structured Course Modification Methodology Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29671

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