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

Amie Baisley, Keith D. Hjelmstad

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A mastery-based grading system was implemented in the courses Statics, Dynamics, and Deformable Solids to create a better assessment environment for the students and to 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 some specific action for each objective for each individual problem. The course objectives are repeatedly and redundantly assessed throughout a semester across different problem types in each course. The students are tested on at least ten different problems throughout the semester with the goal of demonstrating their ability to do 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 support this model. However, the information from the mastery grading approach could be viewed as a portfolio of student achievement in that course. 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 for each course can be collected and presented, and what it implies about student success in learning mechanics. We associate the mastery portfolio with final course grades to illustrate and quantify what a typical portfolio looks like for students in these courses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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