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An Alternative to Videos for Lecture Preparation in a Flipped First-Year Engineering Computing Course

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 1: Using Technology and/or Technology Tools to Enhance Learning

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First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Gregory Warren Bucks University of Cincinnati

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Gregory Bucks joined the Department of Engineering Education at the University of Cincinnati in 2012. He received his BSEE from the Pennsylvania State University in 2004, his MSECE from Purdue University in 2006, and his PhD in Engineering Education in 2010, also from Purdue University. After completing his PhD, he taught for two years at Ohio Northern University in the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science department, before making the transition to the University of Cincinnati. He has taught a variety of classes ranging introductory programming and first-year engineering design courses to introductory and advanced courses in electronic circuits. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE, and ACM.

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Kathleen A. Ossman University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Kathleen A. Ossman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at the University of Cincinnati. She teaches primarily freshmen with a focus on programming and problem solving. Dr. Ossman is interested in active learning, flipped classrooms, and other strategies that help students become self-directed learners.

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At a large university in the mid-west, two courses, Engineering Models I and II, are offered to all first-year engineering students and form a two-semester sequence in which students apply fundamental theories from algebra, trigonometry, calculus and physics to relevant engineering applications chosen from a variety of disciplines. MATLAB® is introduced and progressively developed as a computing tool to enable students to explore engineering concepts, to investigate solutions to problems too complex for hand solutions, to analyze and present data effectively, and to develop an appreciation of the power and limitations of computer tools. Students are introduced to the basics of programming as well as such ideas as interpolation, curve-fitting, and numeric differentiation and integration, through applications areas such as data analysis, image processing, communications, position tracking, basic mechanics, and system modeling. Throughout the courses, several team projects are introduced requiring the students to use MATLAB® to develop solutions to open-ended design problems.

The Engineering Models sequence was required for all incoming first-year engineering and engineering technology students starting with the 2012-2013 academic year. Lectures, recitation activities, homework assignments, exams, and projects were common across all sections, though some variation existed in how lectures were delivered. In order to reduce variation between sections, a flipped pedagogy was implemented for the 2013-2014 academic year in these courses. Specifically, videos were created from the lecture material covered in the first offering and students were required to watch these videos prior to lecture and take a short quiz at the start of each lecture. Lecture time was then devoted to solving problems, either in small groups or as a class. The flipped classroom implementation was modified for the 2014-2015 academic year. Based on student feedback, the videos were remade and edited to keep the length to around 10 minutes and more effort was made to provide instructors with resources for problem-solving activities so that the lecture periods were more consistently utilized for problem-solving and not for straight lecturing.

Through end-of-semester surveys completed by the students, it was found that many students preferred to simply review the provided slides instead of watching the lectures. While the videos do provide additional content not available solely through the slides, they are still a mostly passive way to gain information (there are practice quizzes available, but the videos themselves do not provide much interaction). To cater to those students who did not gain much from the videos, a system was created that is more interactive. The system, dubbed the Engineering Models Practice System, was created in MATLAB® and was modeled after the successful online site Codecademy, where students are presented with course content and are asked to complete simple exercises based on this material. The content available in the practice system is the same as that in the videos, but affords students the opportunity to immediately apply the material towards solving simple problems.

This paper will use data from end-of-semester student surveys and performance on course assignments to analyze the effectiveness of the practice system compared to the traditional lecture preparation options.

Bucks, G. W., & Ossman, K. A. (2016, June), An Alternative to Videos for Lecture Preparation in a Flipped First-Year Engineering Computing Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26560

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