Document Type


Publication Date

June 2015

Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition




Mechanical Engineering


Improving Student Learning Experience in an Engineering Graphics Classroom through the Mastery Approach Pictorial representation of three-dimensional objects has been one of the oldest forms of communication. Engineering graphics courses deal with the art of documenting three dimensional objects in two-dimensional format. Prior literature shows that graphics communication is a key skill for an engineer to possess. However, students in engineering graphics classrooms struggle to understand the concepts being taught due to a variety of reasons including poor visualization skills, limited class time, huge class sizes and unavailability of simple demonstrations. Most of the schools offer this course in the freshman year and the class sizes are large. The instructors are typically unable to provide one-to-one instruction to students. Often, students also hesitate to ask questions as they are in their freshman year. Once they fail to understand the fundamentals of a concept, it propagates throughout the course and the rest of their engineering curriculum.At Tuskegee University, the instructors of the freshman engineering graphics course implemented a mastery approach to teach the course. Mastery approach, in its original form, instructs that students need to learn a concept completely before moving on to the next concept. Due to the limited number of classes available in a semester, it is hard to implement this concept in its original form. Hence the instructors chose to implement a variation of the mastery approach. This variation, originally proposed by the Pennsylvania State University at Erie, relies on providing additional chances to students to correct their mistakes and learn a concept completely before they can get any grade on the same. In this approach, the instructor grades any classwork or homework in a minimum time possible (typically within 2-3 days) and returns the work to the students. They are given a chance to correct their mistakes in the first attempt and resubmit the work before the next class. In the second attempt, for each mistake they corrected, they receive 80% of the marks they lost on the original submission. If a student again commits the same mistakes, the instructor provides them a face-to-face tutorial session and exercises until the student understands the concept. The target of this method is to ensure that students clearly understand all the concepts before they advance far along the semester.This paper will present a comparison between the mastery approach employed in one section and the traditional approach employed in the other section (the classes are in progress currently). The improvements in students’ spatial visualization abilities, their performances in the class and the results from an end-of-the course survey will be compared. The paper will also summarize the results and provide detailed discussions on the observations from these classes.


© 2015 American Society for Engineering Education.
This article originally appeared in the Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington and can be found online at this link.