Eliminate Exams in Intro to Flight with Portfolios? An Update After 6 Years of Improvement

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Source

50th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting including the New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition


A portfolio can be an extremely powerful tool to determine the degree of learning experienced by a student throughout the semester, and to coax the student into a higher level of reflective learning and meta-cognition not generally possible by studying for and taking the traditional in-class, timed final exam. Portfolios have been common in art, photography, journalism, business, architecture and other professions for quite some time. Strong justification can be found in learning theory for using Portfolios in engineering. Even though engineering design provides the most immediately obvious application of portfolios within engineering, different kinds of portfolios can be implemented across the engineering curriculum. This paper will briefly discuss what an engineering portfolio is in the context of an Introduction to Flight course given to sophomore year students at the University of Dayton.

The paper will describe in detail what has been learned in 6 years of implementing portfolios in Intro to Flight. By the time the students submit their portfolios, almost all of the students are extremely positive about the entire portfolio experience. Most importantly, the portfolios elucidate the level of understanding and comprehension of the breadth and depth of the subject being examined for the student and instructor in a manner not possible through the use of a traditional in-class timed final exam. Portfolios provide an individualistic and creative outlet for assessment that leads to self-motivated and energized students. Finally, portfolios frequently cause a paradigm shift in student expectations for learning by shifting responsibility for the learning to the student which promotes a tendency towards life-long learning practices.




Permission documentation is on file.


American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Place of Publication

Nashville, TN