Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings


In Fall 2020, we converted the engineering upper division class “Aerospace Structural Analysis I” from a traditional format to a competency-based learning model. “Aerospace Structural Analysis I” is a combination of topics from statics and strength of materials applied to aerospace systems. A total of about 100 students were enrolled in the class. Due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, this class was conducted in an online environment for the first time in Fall 2020. Competency based learning assesses students on how many topics/skills they are proficient, and allows students to engage with more complex topics only after mastering prerequisite skills. To pass the class in the competency-based learning model, students must be proficient on seven fundamental skills related to aerospace structures. Students are required to be proficient on further skills to obtain a higher grade. Students demonstrate proficiency on a skill by completing a quiz without major errors. The class was offered in Fall 2020 as fully online, with synchronous, recorded lectures. Although the online format poses new challenges for students, we think that it was easier for students to progress at their own pace in an online environment. The effectiveness and limitations of the competency-based pedagogy are assessed in the paper comparing students' progress and grade between Fall 2020 and the previous class offering (Fall 2019). In addition, students' experience and perception about the new format are assessed with an end-of-semester survey. Students generally had a positive experience with competency-based learning format, but they identified the necessity to provide more timely feedback.


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Aerospace Engineering