Direct Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes in Physics for Engineers Courses

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Conference Proceedings


The calculus-based Introductory Physics sequence of courses for undergraduate engineering students is considered part of the general education requirement by most colleges and universities. However, as implied by the a)-k) general ABET program outcomes, and the l)-n) outcomes specific to Mechanical Engineering programs, a solid preparation in Physics is required in order for students to be successful in the further study of engineering disciplines, and ultimately become accomplished engineers. Thus a good direct assessment of student achievement in physics is as important as the direct assessment in the core engineering disciplines. With this in mind we decided to use recent methodologies applied for direct assessment of engineering courses to develop a direct assessment for calculus-based physics taught to undergraduate mechanical engineering students. The paper describes our methodology for assessing student achievement in one of the Physics courses in the calculus-based Physics sequence, and the results we obtained for the past two academic years. Achievement of each Student Learning Outcome was determined quantitatively using a spreadsheet program. A special focus was placed on Student Learning Outcomes directly related to the a)-n) ABET required program outcomes for Mechanical Engineering programs. We found the methodology to be very helpful in assessing topics of difficulty for students, and year-to-year trends in student learning.




© American Society for Engineering Education, 2008.