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Mapping Outcomes in an Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering Program

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Aerospace Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1130.1 - 26.1130.10



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Paper Authors


Joseph Seering Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Joseph Seering is an Educational Researcher in the Aeronautics and Astronautics department at MIT. He graduated from Harvard University in 2013 with an AB in Social Studies. His primary research interest is interaction between users and virtual platforms, primarily but not exclusively in educational environments.

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Karen Willcox Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Karen Willcox is Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics in the Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory at MIT. She is also co-chair of the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education and co-Director of the MIT Center for Computational Engineering. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and master's and Ph.D. degrees from MIT. Before joining the faculty at MIT, she worked at Boeing Phantom Works with the Blended-Wing-Body group. Professor Willcox's research and teaching interests lie in computational simulation and optimization of engineering systems.

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Luwen Huang MIT

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Luwen Huang is an independent User Experience Consultant currently active in-house at MIT. Leveraging web technologies, learning algorithms and visualization design to solve data-driven problems is her main area of interest. She graduated from MIT in 2011 and has been first employee of an ed-tech startup. Her other interests include bouldering and gymnastics.

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Mapping Outcomes in an Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering ProgramStudent learning outcomes are well known to be an important component of developing subjectcontent, communicating expectations to students, and designing effective assessments. Thisproject focuses on mapping the relationships among outcomes across an entire undergraduateaerospace engineering program. In many domains, outcomes are presented simply as lists ofcapabilities students should gain by the end of a learning activity. This project expands upon thestandard presentation by placing all outcomes from the undergraduate program in aninterconnected contextual map. To bring further structure to the map, we group outcomes withinmodules, where we define a module as a learning unit comprised of a set of outcomes.This new outcomes framework provides a structured process for reevaluation and assessment ofa curriculum, specifically with regard to intra and inter-connectedness of subjects. Severalspecific motivations drove this project: first, to inspire discussion among faculty about thecurrent and ideal shape of the undergraduate curriculum and potential gaps or overlap amongclasses; second, to highlight modularity inherent in the curriculum; third, to provide aneducational roadmap to students so that they are able to view their progress through the programand self-assess as necessary; and fourth, to provide a framework for dynamic, integratedassessment within subjects.As a part of this project, faculty revised and expanded upon existing outcomes or generated newoutcomes. In addition, faculty identified the relationships among outcomes using prerequisitestructures and they grouped outcomes in modules. This led to a set of over 700 outcomes forsubjects taught within the Aerospace department, over 150 outcomes for pre-requisitemathematics and physics subjects taught outside the department, and almost 1000 prerequisitelinks between outcomes. These outcomes and links, along with their associated subjects andmodules, have been entered into a database for which a custom visualization has been developed.The figure on the following page shows connections among outcomes across subjects taughtwithin the aerospace engineering department (showing all subjects that contribute to meetingdepartmental undergraduate degree requirements).One specific example of how these outcome networks have been utilized is within ajunior/senior-level computational methods subject that utilizes a blended learning model. Theoutcomes map provides an explicit structure that integrates pre-class online readings with in-class active learning activities. Each section of the online readings and the associated embeddedassessments are tagged explicitly with the specific outcomes to which they relate. The onlineplatform also provides an integrated linkage of all outcomes across the subject, permittingstudents to navigate through the online resources to find other lessons and assessment activitiesthat relate to each outcome.The final paper will present the process used to collect and organize the outcomes mapping, thedevelopment of the database and visualization tool, conclusions drawn from assessment datacollected via student feedback, and specific case studies that demonstrate the utilization of themapping.Figure 1: Interconnections between outcomes in subjects across the curriculumNote: Subject names have been removed from this figure to avoid identifying the institution. Thefinal version will include these subject names.

Seering, J., & Willcox, K., & Huang, L. (2015, June), Mapping Outcomes in an Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering Program Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24467

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