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General Card #901
Effects of Alternative Course Design and Instructional Methods in the Engineering Classroom
Updated: 10/14/2022 3:30 PM by Michael Johnson
Reviewed: 10/14/2022 3:30 PM by Michael Johnson
2019 ASEE Conference - Quantitative Study of Flipping in Statics Courses
This card shares highlights from the 2019 ASEE paper, Effects of Alternative Course Design and Instructional Methods in the Engineering Classroom.  The paper was presented in the Mechanical Engineering Division and awarded best paper for the Mechanical Division as well as best paper for the PIC Division I. As this is a work-in-progress paper, data collection and analysis are ongoing and an updated presentation will be given at the ASEE 2020 Distinguished Lecture Session. 

Overview of Paper and ASEE Presentation:
This work-in-progress paper reports on the effects of alternative course design and instructional methods in the engineering classroom. The primary method of delivery in undergraduate engineering classrooms remains the traditional lecture format, or teacher-centered instruction, despite evidence that active learning, or student-centered teaching practices, are significantly more effective.  Catalyzed by the overwhelming research support for more active learning methods and the promise for creating these opportunities through alternative course models, there has been a more recent shift towards experimentation in delivery and course structure, including strategies such as flipping course content. Flipped course design allows instructors to maintain delivery of critical theoretical and background information by presenting this material to the students outside of formal classroom time, thus preserving time in-class for more active learning and problem-based activities.

The flipped learning course design continues to gain popularity in engineering education; however, large-scale quantitative statistical analysis of student outcomes and achievement in courses taught simultaneously through alternative course designs remains limited. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of these varied instructional methods by investigating the student achievement outcomes of engineering students enrolled in the same course taught through three different instructional models. The study also aims to assess more specific flipped course design components (video lectures) on student outcomes as well as to evaluate the data through the context of the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) and Constructivist theoretical models.

Beginning in the fall of 2018, a 200-level mechanical/aerospace course, Statics, was taught by three different faculty members at a large university in the Southwest. Each of these sections were taught in different ways: (a) traditional lecture format, (b) flipped style classroom, and (c) mixed version, which utilized videos created for the flipped classroom as supplemental material but delivered course content primarily through lecture style. Student-level data were collected for all three of the Statics sections of interest in this study. Data were analyzed to determine if students enrolled in flipped or mixed sections experienced improved achievement outcomes greater than their traditional-lecture peers. Initial data showed that the mixed course design had the greatest impact on student achievement as measured by grade distribution, DEW rates, and student performance on class assignments, quizzes, and exams. The flipped and mixed courses were associated with greater improvement for DEW rates, in comparison to the traditional lecture course. Additional data analysis may provide further insight into how specific flipped delivery components, such as video lectures, impact student achievement. 

Connections to EM and the 3Cs:
While this paper does not directly discuss EM integration into courses, there are several connections between the content and EM/3Cs. First, this card encourages faculty to embrace an Entrepreneurial Mindset in their own teaching.  Too often we expect our students to develop EM skills yet we do not embrace or demonstrate them ourselves.  As discussed above, the most frequently used instructional strategy in Engineering courses across the country remains lecture delivery despite the knowledge that active learning, or student-centered teaching practices, are significantly more effective. This paper details the efforts of faculty to embrace EM in their own teaching practice, to be curious if there is a better solution to teaching challenging material, to be innovative in their approach, and to effectively measure the outcomes so they can articulate the value these solutions create for their students. 

Second, this paper details an instructional approach, flipping, that makes EM possible in content-heavy courses where it may have otherwise been difficult.  Prior to the flipped approach, instructors in this course struggled to cover all of the content, and the idea of integrating any other learning objectives (such as those related to EM) were met with skepticism.  Now that content has been flipped, significant course time is available for more active and collaborative instructional techniques as well as increased implementation of objectives and activities related to the Entrepreneurial Mindset. 

Resources Included in this Card:
1) Complete ASEE Paper: Effects of Alternative Course Design and Instructional Methods in the Engineering Classroom.
2) ASEE Paper Presentation with possible faculty discussion questions
3) Link to video on lightboard technology (used to create flipped videos for course-28 videos total)
4) Link to Gradescope (online grade database, in which homework sets, quizzes, and exams were uploaded and graded using a common set of metrics)
5) Link to PlayPosit (learning platform leveraged for flipped design, which allows for free response and/or multiple choice questions to be displayed to the students periodically throughout the flipped video to monitor comprehension)

  • Demonstrate constant curiosity about our changing world
  • Explore a contrarian view of accepted solution
  • Integrate information from many sources to gain insight
  • Assess and manage risk
Creating Value
  • Identify unexpected opportunities to create extraordinary value
  • Persist through and learn from failure
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