Asee peer logo

Flipping a Large-enrollment Fluid Mechanics Course – Is it Effective?

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Mechanics, Hands-on Demo - Show & Tell!

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.607.1 - 23.607.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Carrie J. McClelland P.E. Colorado School of Mines

Download Paper |


Flipping a Large-enrollment Fluid Mechanics Course – Is it Effective?In an effort to continually improve the quality of education that students receive, a large lecture-based, sophomore-level course in fluid mechanics was converted to a flipped, or inverted,classroom. In a flipped classroom format, students watch lectures on the internet and take notesbefore class. This frees up in-class time to discuss concepts, complete hands-on activities, andwork problems that traditionally were homework. For this particular course, online videos werecreated for each topic that coupled graphics, PowerPoint slides, and the instructor’s voice.During class time, the instructor and two teaching assistants interacted with groups of students.Typically, time in class was spent working problems that had been assigned as homeworkproblems for the lecture format sections. Occasionally, hands-on activities and demonstrationsthat had been part of the lecture format classes were also conducted.In order to determine the effectiveness of the flipped format, the performance of students wascompared between two different classes. Two sections of mainly sophomores were taught usinga lecture format. Two other sections of students were taught using a flipped format the next timethe course was offered. The sections taught using a lecture format had assigned homeworkproblems that were completed outside of class time. The sections that had the flipped formatworked many of the same problems during class. The exams had similar problems that coveredthe same topics, and the final exams were identical. To determine the effectiveness of theflipped format, a comparison was made between the test scores for each section. In addition, thescores for each topic were compared. At the end of the semester, comments regarding thestudents’ impressions of the flipped format were anonymously collected in conjunction with thecourse evaluations.The average score for the final exam in the traditional lecture format was 83.75%, and theaverage final exam score for the flipped format was 80.1%. This difference is mainly due to theself-motivation of one section that had flipped-format classes. Self-motivation of the studentsplays a much larger role in the flipped format. The lower performing section did not work asdiligently during class problem solving sessions, and often were not prepared to discuss theonline lectures when they came to class. In addition, comparison of scores for each topic did notshow that either of the methods resulted in consistently higher scores across all topics in thecourse.Course evaluations showed overwhelming support for the flipped format. Of over 100anonymous course evaluations with comments regarding the flipped format, the majority of thestudents expressed that they enjoyed the format and felt that they learned using it. There wereonly three students who expressed an interest in having more lecture time.In conclusion, the flipped format is effective for learning fluid mechanics concepts, and studentsstrongly felt that the flipped format enabled them to learn effectively. However, it did notprovide an environment that resulted in higher exam scores than a lecture format class.

McClelland, C. J. (2013, June), Flipping a Large-enrollment Fluid Mechanics Course – Is it Effective? Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19621

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015