Document Type


Publication Date

April 1999


A new way of assessing student learning in an aerodynamics course through the use of portfolios is presented. The approach is portable to any engineering course, with a few modifications depending on content.

The main idea is to allow students more responsibility for their own learning. Instead of having everyone in the class perform identical activities (homework, experiments, projects, tests, etc.), a cadre of assignments is made available to them. Students choose and perform (within reason) the ones that suit them better in terms of their own strengths and learning styles. The ultimate goal is for each student to demonstrate a minimum level of competence in analytical, computational, experimental, design, communication, and team skills, while pursuing excellence in at least one from the first four categories.

The paper describes the various assignments and options the students have for achieving the learning objectives of the course. It also discusses my observations on the effects of this approach to student learning, the impact on faculty time, and the response from the students. The results from the first two offerings of the course with portfolios show promise for improving student motivation and learning.


Copyright © 1999 American Society for Engineering Education/. The article was originally published in the Journal of Engineering Education (JEE)and may be found at: