New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
The course “Introduction to Nano Science and Technology” (E304) was designed to serve as the foundational course for a multidisciplinary minor program in Nano Science and Technology developed within the _____ Center. This is a multidisciplinary course listed under the College of Engineering, and therefore not belonging to any specific department. Students from any engineering discipline are encouraged to take this course to learn about nanotechnology in general as well as applications relevant to the specific disciplines.
The course provides a broad introduction to fundamental concepts of nano science and technology while emphasizing the multidisciplinary nature of the field. The impact of scaling on fundamental properties of matter is reviewed emphasizing unique properties that emerge as a result of scaling. This is followed by examples to showcase how different nano-concepts merge to create systems with unique functions and characteristics. Finally, applications in mechanics, electronics, heat transfer, fluidics, photonics, and biotechnology are covered, making the course relevant to students from a variety of backgrounds.
Because this course focuses on multidisciplinary applications of nanotechnology, we believe it to be uniquely suited for a flipped classroom format. The key concept in flipping this particular classroom is that lectures can be recorded by several professors who are experts in the various application areas. The recorded lectures can then be used in conjunction with targeted active learning sessions in the classroom. In this way, students benefit from the combined expertise and unique perspectives of faculty members from various academic departments. These perspectives are tied together through the in-class activities and assignments led by the course instructor.
The course instructor assumes the role of facilitator, having a broad understanding of the subject matter, without needing to be a content area expert in every possible application of nano science. In fact, the instructor can rotate semester-to-semester while maintaining uniformity in the course delivery.
This format paves the way for broader dissemination of this course to partner schools and community colleges who may be interested in offering a course in nano science and technology but do not have the local expertise in all of the application areas. The expert-recorded lectures and course materials can be packaged, and a local instructor having a general technical background can be trained to serve as facilitator.
This course has been taught every semester beginning in the Fall 2013 semester with full enrollment (approximately 60 students per semester). In the Fall 2015 semester, the flipped classroom concept was introduced for the first time. The learning objectives, course textbook, and range of topics covered have remained constant. In the flipped classroom, the lectures were recorded by several professors and posted online instead of being presented in class. The class time was then used for hands-on learning activities, group problem solving, and open discussion.
This paper will present the preliminary results of the impact of the flipped classroom approach. Aggregate data showing students’ achievement of the established learning outcomes in both the traditional and flipped classroom will be presented. Performance will be assessed by comparing responses to equivalent midterm and final examination questions. Self-reported data of the student experience from course evaluations will be compared semester-to-semester.
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