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Transforming A Course On Automotive Emissions Control Through The Use Of Assessment Tools

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Assessment and Continuous Improvement in Engineering Technology: Part I

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1278.1 - 14.1278.7



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Paper Authors

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Janet Braun Western Washington University

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

Transforming a Course on Automotive Emissions Control Through the Use of Assessment Tools


Students involved with the Vehicle Research Institute at Western Washington University choose between two degree paths, either a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology – Vehicle Design or a combined Bachelor of Science in Plastics Engineering Technology/Vehicle Engineering Technology (PETVET). Students in both programs take Advanced Emission Control as a requirement for graduation. Prior to 2008, the content of this course focused mainly on the history of government regulations imposing emissions controls on vehicles, the effect of automotive emissions on our environment and health and the strategies employed starting in the 1960s to reduce the amount of harmful emissions from vehicles.

In an attempt to modify the course content to provide students with an understanding of the contemporary issues facing automotive emission control, a hybrid approach was employed. The approach was hybrid in the sense that much of the original historical content was included at the beginning of the term while the content during the later part of the term was shifted towards understanding the current technical issues that must be overcome to reduce automotive emissions to near-zero levels and the opposing goals that must be balanced to do so. Various tools were employed beginning in term 1 and continuing when the course was taught a second time, term 2, to assess the level of student interest in the topic of emissions control, demonstrated student learning, as well as the teaching effectiveness of the faculty. This paper chronicles those methods and how they were applied to systematically transform this course.

Pre-course tests were administered on the first day of class in each term. The content of the pre- course test during the first term was skewed heavily towards the historical content of the course as it had been presented previously. Student surveys were conducted at the end of the first term to determine those topics and activities the students found useful and those they did not. The survey also presented some topics which were not covered during the first term to determine if they should be included in the subsequent term. The result of this survey, in addition to verbal discussions with the students, prompted modification of the course content for the second term, as well as the content of the pre-course test. Overall, students requested much less detail on the historical aspects of the emissions challenge and expressed a desire to develop not only an understanding of current production vehicle emission control strategies, but also of future innovations in this field.

Corresponding post-course tests were then administered at the end of the terms to determine the extent of student learning. Anonymous teaching evaluation surveys were also completed by the students to determine the teaching effectiveness of the faculty. These tools, along with engaging in open communication with the students, have helped transform Advanced Emission Control into a contemporary study on the challenge of further reducing automotive emissions while balancing opposing goals, a typical engineering trial.

Braun, J. (2009, June), Transforming A Course On Automotive Emissions Control Through The Use Of Assessment Tools Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4903

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