Asee peer logo

Improving Student Learning Of Materials Fundamentals

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Introductory Materials Engineering Courses of 2020

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.739.1 - 11.739.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Robert LeMaster University of Tennessee-Martin

visit author page

Robert LeMaster is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennesee at Martin. He has over 20 years of research, development, and management experience on NASA and Air Force projects. Dr. LeMaster received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Akron in 1976, an M.S. degree in Engineering Mechanics from the Ohio State University in 1978, and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Tennessee in 1983.

visit author page


Ray Witmer University of Tennessee-Martin

visit author page

Assistant Professor University of Tennessee at Martin, Registered Professional Engineer

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Improving Student Learning of Materials Fundamentals


All engineering students at the University of Tennessee at Martin (UT Martin) are required to take an introductory course in materials science and engineering. This is a common requirement for most engineering programs. At UT Martin this introductory course consists of two lecture hours and one three-hour lab per week. Additional exposure to materials concepts and applications are obtained through courses such as Strength of Materials, and depending on the area of concentration courses in Reinforced Concrete, Soils, Manufacturing Processes, Electronics, and Machine Design. An examination of student performance on the Materials and Structure of Matter section of the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination showed that UT Martin students consistently scored below the national average and that the trend was constant to slightly negative.

Figure 1 shows data that compares UT Martin 1.60 test results to the national average. UT Martin A.M. 1.40 students take the General Engineering Exam P.M. which includes a materials section in both the Running Average 1.20

A.M. and P.M. test sessions. Results are shown 1.00 for both test sessions. The results shown in the 0.80 figure are based on a four-point running average 0.60 that is used to dampen the oscillations 0.40 associated with individual test sessions. 0.20 Removing the oscillations enables trends to be more easily seen. As seen in the figure, UT 0.00 Sep-01 Apr-02 Oct-02 May-03 Dec-03 Martin scores were consistently 5-10% below End Date the national average with slight negative trend. UT Martin’s goal is to have students Figure 1. Comparison of UT Martin test consistently score at or above the national results with national average average on this exam. This goal was not being met in this subject area.

UT Martin uses data from the FE to assess whether or not some program outcomes are being met. Core Curriculum Committees are responsible for reviewing the assessment data for groups of courses and determining whether or not changes in course content is needed. The Core Curriculum Committee responsible for the materials course determined that the textbook, prerequisites, and content covered in the course was similar to those at other universities. Therefore, reasons other than content had to exist that would explain the lower than expected performance. During the course of this review a number of potential contributing factors were identified. First, not all students had completed the materials course at the time of the examination. Depending on the area of concentration, materials may not be a prerequisite for another course and in some cases students put off taking the course until their last semester of enrollment. It was decided that this problem was best addressed through advising in which faculty made sure that students took the junior level course in their junior year instead of deferring it until their last semester. Second, it was determined that only the laboratory portion

LeMaster, R., & Witmer, R. (2006, June), Improving Student Learning Of Materials Fundamentals Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--21

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015