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Effectiveness of Flipped Classroom for Mechanics of Materials

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Teaching & Learning Statics and Mechanics of Materials

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Andrew Lee Arizona State University

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Andrew Lee is an undergraduate student in aerospace engineering at Arizona State University, set to graduate in May 2016. He has served as a Teaching Aide for Dr. Haolin Zhu's flipped Mechanics of Materials course and has conducted finite element analysis for Aerojet Rocketdyne. He is currently a teaching aide for Engineering Mechanics. His work as an honors student with Dr. Haolin Zhu and Dr. James Middleton has allowed him to discover a research interest in engineering education.

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Haolin Zhu Arizona State University

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Dr. Haolin Zhu received her PhD in Solid Mechanics and Computational Science and Engineering from Cornell University. She is currently part of the engineering education team in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Currently she focuses on designing the curriculum for the freshman engineering program as well as the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program. She also designs and teaches courses in mechanical engineering at ASU. Her interests include innovative teaching pedagogies for increased retention and student motivation, innovations in non-traditional delivery methods, as well as structured reflective practices throughout the engineering curriculum.

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James A Middleton Arizona State University

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James A. Middleton is Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Director of the Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology at Arizona State University. For the last three years he also held the Elmhurst Energy Chair in STEM education at the University of Birmingham in the UK. Previously, Dr. Middleton was Associate Dean for Research in the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education at Arizona State University, and Director of the Division of Curriculum and Instruction. He received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992, where he also served in the National Center for Research on Mathematical Sciences Education as a postdoctoral scholar.

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The flipped classroom is a teaching method that flips the activities done in and out of class, i.e., concepts are learned out of class and problems are worked in class under the supervision of the instructor. Studies have indicated several benefits of the FC, including improved performance and engagement [1-2]. In the past years, further studies have investigated the benefits of FC in statics, dynamics, and mechanics of materials courses and indicate similar performance benefits [3-4]. However, these studies address a need for additional studies to validate their results due to the short length of their research or small classroom size. In addition, many of these studies do not measure student attitudes, such as self-efficacy, or the difference in time spent out of class on coursework.

The objective of this research is to determine the effectiveness of the flipped classroom system (FC) in comparison to the traditional classroom system (TC) in a large mechanics of materials course. Specifically, it aims to measure student performance, student self-efficacy, student attitudes on lecture quality, motivation, attendance, hours spent out of class, practice, and support, and difference in impact between high, middle, and low achieving students. In order to accomplish this, three undergraduate mechanics of materials courses were analyzed during the spring 2015 semester. One FC section served as the experimental group (92 students), while the two TC sections served as the control group (125 students). To analyze student self-efficacy and attitudes, a survey instrument was designed to measure 18 variables and was administered at the end of the semester. Standardized core outcomes were compared between groups to analyze performance.

This paper presents the specific course framework used in this FC, detailed results of the quantitative and qualitative analysis, and discussion of strengths and weaknesses. Overall, an overwhelming majority of students were satisfied with FC and would like more of their classes taught using FC. Strengths of this teaching method include greater confidence, better focus, higher satisfaction with practice in class and assistance received from instructors and peers, more freedom to express ideas and questions in class, and less time required outside of class for coursework. Results also suggest that this method has a greater positive impact on high and low achieving students and leads to higher performance. The criticisms made by students focused on lecture videos to have more worked examples. Overall, results suggest that FC is more effective than TC in a large mechanics of materials course.


[1] M. Redekopp and G. Ragusa. “Evaluating Flipped Classroom Strategies and Tools for Computer Engineering.” 120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, June 23-26, 2013, Atlanta, Georgia, 18 pp.

[2] G. Mason, T. Shuman, and K. Cook. “Comparing the Effectiveness of an Inverted Classroom to a Traditional Classroom in an Upper-Division Engineering Course.” IEEE Transactions on Education, Vol. 56, No. 4, November 2013: 432-434.

[3] Y. Hu, J. Montefort, and E. Tsang. “An Innovative Redesign of Statics: Approach and Lessons Learned.” 122th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, June 14-17, 2015, Seattle, Washington. 13 pp.

[4] L. Lee, R. Hackett, and H. Estrada. “Evaluation of a Flipped Classroom in Mechanics of Materials.” 122th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, June 14-17, 2015, Seattle, Washington. 12 pp.

Lee, A., & Zhu, H., & Middleton, J. A. (2016, June), Effectiveness of Flipped Classroom for Mechanics of Materials Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26907

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