Flipped classroom learning in a large introductory undergraduate engineering course
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Scott, J. B., Khoo, E. G. L., Peter, M., & Round, W. H. (2016). Flipped classroom learning in a large introductory undergraduate engineering course. Presented at the AAEE2016 Conference, Coffs Harbour, Australia.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12371
CONTEXT The flipped-classroom model is a recent educational development that is prominent in the literature on learning. The typical flipped class scenario involves students looking up information, reading printed materials or watching videos prior to gathering in a classroom to apply the knowledge through problem solving activities with guidance from the teacher. However, there is little research available about the effects of the flipped class on students’ learning in large introductory engineering courses with a strong lab component that must be conducted in multiple streams. This current research is based at one New Zealand university with engineering student enrolments of typically 150 students. In the past few years, prior to the introduction of the flipped class, the course lecturers have been refining the teaching of the course through a focus on threshold concepts (TCs) and the introduction of online tutorials. PURPOSE This paper aims to address the question: Does flipping a first year electronic engineering class and changing the traditional role of the lecturer to a “learning guide” offer better value for money in terms of the lecturer’s time, resources, and student satisfaction than the traditional face-to-face lecture model? APPROACH We adopted a design-based research approach to develop and trial a flipped class approach to help students learn the TCs and related concepts in electronic engineering. We will report on the design of the flipped class involving lecturer developed online videos and student collaborative problem solving activities. Data collected from lecturer reflections, student focus group interviews and student evaluation of the course will be reported and discussed. RESULTS Of the 64 students who responded to the midterm survey, over 80% found the videos helpful in learning key course ideas. About 70% of respondents indicated that the problem solving sessions helped them understand concepts covered in videos, 43% found them useful in allowing them to explain what they know so far in the course, and, about a quarter found them useful for applying their knowledge in real life and to practice team work skills. The course lecturers observed that as compared to previous years, students are more on- task in the labs, and that the problem solving activities worked well despite some students reporting that some of the exercises were a bit challenging. Regardless, the lecturers felt that the problem solving activities helped to complement the online video lectures. CONCLUSIONS The results suggest that flipping the class provides students with a more active student-centred learning context. Lecturers become learning facilitators or guide to address student queries when needed. Subsequently when lecturers and students get together in face-to-face class or lab sessions, these allow for more productive, group problem solving activities, and bolster the “esprit-de-corps” of the student cohort. It is our experience that without these changing roles and learning contexts, the flipped class loses more than it gains.
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