New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Graduate education in scientific and engineering fields requires students to learn detailed technical information in courses that continue to be taught in a traditional lecture format. At the same time, students entering those graduate programs increasingly prefer on-line and social media to traditional classroom environments. Our research examines the following question: what is the quantifiable advantage of transitioning from a strict lecture based classroom environment to a more active, technology enabled classroom for introductory graduate level engineering coursework? We test that question by altering the teaching methods for a required foundational course and evaluating both student performance and perceptions. We eliminated traditional lectures by revising the course structure to that of a flipped classroom. In the flipped (or inverted classroom), students obtain content knowledge outside of class and spend class time involved in active, group-based learning activities. This technique is based on learner-centered teaching strategies that aim to improve student engagement and promote life-long learning by developing self-reliant learners. In this paper, we describe our efforts to implement and assess the effectiveness of a flipped classroom in a graduate probability and statistics course. We compare students’ performance as measured by equivalent exams from previous offerings of the course, and solicit student feedback through two surveys.
Our department offers Master of Science degree programs in both Engineering Management and Management Science. Each program of study consists of 36 semester hours and includes a culminating capstone experience. The Probability & Statistics for Engineers course, in addition to being a core requirement for each degree program, serves as either a pre- or co-requisite for many other courses in our program. Additionally, the course serves as a math or technical elective for other majors in the School of Engineering. Currently, The Probability & Statistics for Engineers course is offered three times per year (fall, spring, and summer) in a 16-week semester in a traditional classroom setting. In order to accommodate working professionals, classes are delivered on campus and are also simulcast over the Internet via web conferencing software. This semester, 35 students from 10 different majors have enrolled in the course. Females comprise 20% of the student body, and approximately 50% of the students are international. With such a diverse group of students, we believe that implementing more learner-centered teaching methods will greatly benefit the students. Initial results show that students are split on their preference between the flipped-class room and a traditional lecture-based classroom. The majority of students indicate they are completing the class preparation activities before coming to class, and they find value in communicating with their classmates during the in-class activities. Initial findings from the first exam indicate no significant decrease in student achievement of course goals between the flipped classroom and the traditional classroom.
Zalewski, D., & Schneider, K. (2016, June), Assessing Learning Outcomes and Evaluating Graduate Student Perceptions of a Flipped Classroom Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26302
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