Asee peer logo

What do Students Know After Statics? Using Mastery-based Grading to Create a Student Portfolio

Download Paper |


2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

MASS: Mastery, Assessment and Success of Students

Tagged Division


Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Amie Baisley University of Florida

visit author page

I have a M.S. in structural engineering from Arizona State University and a Ph.D. in engineering education from Utah State University. My teaching and research interests are centered around the sophomore level courses that engineering students take and how changes in those courses can impact student learning and retention.

visit author page


Keith D. Hjelmstad Arizona State University

visit author page

Keith D. Hjelmstad is President's Professor of Civil Engineering in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University.

visit author page

Download Paper |


A mastery-based grading system was implemented in Statics, Dynamics, and Solid Mechanics to create a better assessment environment for the students and provide more formative feedback about their learning. The mastery-based system is structured around course objectives that require the students to write an equation, draw a sketch, or solve something for each objective relative to an individual problem. The course objectives are repeatedly and redundantly assessed throughout a semester for different problem types in each course. The students are tested on at least ten different problems throughout the semester and with the goal of demonstrating their knowledge of each available objective for each problem. An objective is considered “mastered” when a student has made a correct demonstration of that objective enough times, as determined by the mastery threshold of that objective for that course. The term “mastery” implies that the student has provided enough evidence to convince the instructor that the student is likely to be successful in completing that task on any problem going forward. In an ideal mastery system, the student would have to master every objective before progressing to the next course. The traditional model of success and progression in higher education (i.e., the notion of passing a course based upon a single final grade) does not allow this. However, the information from the mastery grading approach could be viewed as a portfolio of what the students have/have not mastered in each course as they move forward. The student portfolio provides insights into what was learned, what challenged the students, and the gaps that still exist after each course in a student’s problem-solving approach. The development of this portfolio across multiple courses creates a broad picture of each student’s ability in mechanics that could be carried forward as a vehicle for tracking their success in each course. In this paper we show how the mastery portfolio can be collected and presented, and what it implies about student success in learning mechanics (particularly after statics going into dynamics and deformable solids). We compare the mastery portfolio with final course grades to illustrate and quantify what the range of success looks like for students in these courses.

Baisley, A., & Hjelmstad, K. D. (2021, July), What do Students Know After Statics? Using Mastery-based Grading to Create a Student Portfolio Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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: © 2021 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