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Revised aerodynamics curriculum and instruction for improved student outcomes

Valana L. Wells; Jenefer Husman; Praveen Shankar; Wen-Ting Chung

(Profiled Authors: Jenefer Husman; Valana Lorraine Wells)

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings. 2011.


This paper describes the implementation of a first course in aerodynamics, revised in both content and methodology, as part of a revamping of the junior-year aeronautics curriculum at Arizona State University, a very large, public institution. The curriculum revision is supported by NASA's E.2 Innovation in Aeronautics Instruction. Curriculum modifications include incorporating computational and visualization software into both lecture and homework assignments. In addition, a discovery approach is taken to presentation of key concepts in which students independently investigate aerodynamic behavior of airfoils and wings using the developed software tools. The intended effect of the revisions is to improve students' motivation and ability to persist in the course and in the program. In order to assess their motivation to learn the material and confidence in their ability to do so, students taking the traditional version of the course (Fall 2008) and revised version (Fall 2009 and Fall 2010) were surveyed regarding their perceived ability to achieve course outcomes and to succeed in the course. Analysis of survey data, along with course grades, shows mixed results. The course intervention appears to have improved students' confidence in their ability to master the course outcomes, but it has done little or nothing to improve their perceptions regarding their ability to succeed in achieving a satisfactory grade in the course. The most significant finding indicates that students' selfperception of their ability to master course material and to succeed in the class was virtually uncorrelated with their actual success in the class for students taking the traditional version of the course. In contrast, by the fall of 2010, there is a strong correlation between students' selfperception of their abilities and their performance in the class. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.

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