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Challenges and Logistics in Flipping a Large Classroom for Junior-year Mechanical Vibrations

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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

Teaching & Learning Dynamics, Vibration, and Mechanics More Broadly

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Geoff Rideout Memorial University of Newfoundland

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Geoff Rideout received his B.Eng. (Mechanical) from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1993. After working in the manufacturing and building systems consulting industries, he earned his M.A.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. He has lectured at the University of Michigan and at the Humber Institute for Advanced Technology and Applied Learning in Toronto. He is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Memorial University, teaching mechanics and design. His research areas are automated modeling, vehicle dynamics and control, vibration-assisted drilling, and nondestructive testing of power transmission line poles.

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A junior-year Mechanical Vibrations course with 110 students was “flipped” to increase student engagement and learning outcomes. Each week, a gapped notes handout was created. Theory and derivation videos were generated using open-source software and a tablet PC. A qualitative comprehension quiz was administered using the online course shell through which the students accessed the videos. The homework assignment was posted at the same time as the videos, and was due one week later. During the first of two 75-minute lecture slots, the instructor completed examples related to the video topics. The second lecture slot was for student-directed homework problem solving. As a partial control, the final course module was delivered in the traditional manner. Students reported a strong preference for moving the theory and derivations out of lectures, and an overall preference for the flipped course format.

The biggest challenges were 1) instructor’s perception of diminished connection to the class through not being physically present for the motivational and explanatory material, 2) finding optimum complexity for worked examples, 3) higher workload to generate content during the first offering, and 4) student perceptions of increased workload. Recommendations include incorporating small worked examples into the videos, to allow for more complex examples to be done live by the instructor for each topic; and for the student-directed problem-solving lectures to be somewhat structured, with 1-2 common homework problems worked simultaneously by all. Additional recommendations for generating flipped course content are given. Overall, the instructor’s experience and student feedback confirm that a flipped format is compatible with, and has impact on student engagement in, high-enrollment, mathematically-intensive upper-year engineering courses.

Rideout, G. (2016, June), Challenges and Logistics in Flipping a Large Classroom for Junior-year Mechanical Vibrations Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26466

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