Asee peer logo

Mastery Learning in Engineering: A Case Study in Statics

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Teaching Statics

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.887.1 - 24.887.19



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Shraddha Sangelkar Pennsylvania State University, Erie

visit author page

Shraddha Sangelkar is Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. She received her Masters (2010) and Ph. D. (2013) from Texas A&M University. Her research vision is to develop the design science that equips engineers to innovate. She is also interested in improving engineering education by enhancing the classroom experience.

visit author page

author page

Omar M. Ashour Pennsylvania State University Orcid 16x16

author page

Russell L. Warley Pennsylvania State University, Erie

author page

Oladipo Onipede Jr. Pennsylvania State University, Erie

Download Paper |


Mastery Learning in Engineering: A Case Study in StaticsMastery learning has been used for decades in education. Two approaches were developed:Bloom’s Learning for Mastery and Keller’s Personalized System of Instruction. The main idea inboth approaches is that the course material is divided into basic modules and the students arerequired to demonstrate their mastery of each module before moving to the new module. Themastery level is assessed by using set of tests; each test focuses on a specific module.Compared to conventional teaching and assessment methods, mastery learning provides concreteevidence that students who “pass” the fundamental engineering courses, even with “C” grade,would be able to correctly solve fundamental engineering problems and successfully pass themore advanced engineering courses. This approach has been implemented over the past eightyears in Penn State Erie for fundamental engineering courses, i.e., Statics, Strength of Materials,and Thermodynamics. These courses are the foundation of all engineering disciplines andpassing these courses should mean that the student has the capability to apply concepts fromphysics and mathematics in an engineering context, and the ability to work through toughproblems to get the right answer. This approach has many student-related advantages, such asreducing exam anxiety, emphasizing the value of being “learning-oriented” rather than being“grade-oriented,” and faculty-related advantages, such as providing an effective way to measurestudent learning and assessment, i.e., it provides a way to measure how many students havepassed a specific topic rather than dealing with the average performance score of the class.For engineering statics course at Penn State Erie, six exams are conducted during each semester.Each exam comprises of 2 or 3 problems and each problem tests one fundamental concept inengineering statics. For every exam student can make up to 3 attempts, however the score andtime allotted on subsequent attempts is reduced. Grading of the problem is based on a verysimple scale C - correct, AC – almost correct, or R – re-do. With this method, more time is spenton setting up the exams and keeping track of student scores; however the actual time for gradingexams is reduced.In this paper we are evaluating the effectiveness of mastery learning approach as appliedspecifically to engineering Statics. And it presents the division of concepts as modules in anEngineering Statics course. With this approach we gather rich data on proportions of studentswho pass each concept. The passing rate of each concept could be a valuable indicator forassessment of ABET student outcomes such as outcome a, e, and i. For instance, the fact that80% of students can solve 2D rigid body equilibrium problem helps the instructor to evaluate aspecific course outcome. Also, based on the passing rate from previous semesters we can predictthe concepts that are difficult to most of the students and better plan for future classes. This paperpresents preliminary analysis on the student’s performance in one particular semester. Inaddition, the paper presents qualitative feedback students who took the course in previoussemesters.  

Sangelkar, S., & Ashour, O. M., & Warley, R. L., & Onipede, O. (2014, June), Mastery Learning in Engineering: A Case Study in Statics Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22820

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: © 2014 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