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Flipping an Engineering Thermodynamics Course to Improve Student Self-Efficacy

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids and Heat Transfer II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Karim Altaii James Madison University

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Dr. Altaii holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and received his doctorate from The City University of New York. He is a registered Professional Engineer. He holds five patents in solar energy applications and in irrigation system. He is the director of two international summer programs. He is the Co-Director of the Advanced Thermal-Fluids laboratory. His primary interests are in renewable energy applications, fluid-thermal sciences, and international education.

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Colin J. Reagle George Mason University

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Colin Reagle joined the Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason University in 2014, specializing in the area of thermal fluid flows and sustainable energy systems. He brings his extensive background in the subjects to Mason as a boon to the growing mechanical engineering program. He has also taught and conducted postdoctoral research at Virginia Tech including research projects for Solar Turbines, Siemens, Pratt and Whitney, Rolls-Royce, and Honeywell. Reagle has R&D experience as a researcher for Techsburg, a small engineering services company in Christiansburg, Virginia.

His primary focus at Mason has growing the Mechanical Engineering undergraduate program through teaching in his areas of expertise and service to department and VSE. Reagle has a passion for working with students and enabling them to pursue their goals. He is involved in multiple student centric efforts including developing a small scale, anaerobic digester to harvest energy from food waste in urban and suburban environments; a multidisciplinary entrepreneurship program encouraging students to develop ideas from the classroom; converting a required course in the ME curriculum to use Open Educational Resources; a cross institutional effort to flip and improve a required thermodynamics course; and a multidisciplinary research effort to assess urban hydroelectric microturbines as a solution to joint energy and water challenges.

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Mary K. Handley James Madison University

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Dr. Handley received a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California-Davis. She has been a faculty member in the Integrated Science and Technology Department at James Madison University since 1998, teaching courses in Environmental Science and Chemistry. She was the ISAT program assessment coordinator for 14 years. Dr. Handley’s primary interests are in program assessment, environmental education, and sustainable agriculture.

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Thermodynamics is well documented as a difficult course in the engineering and technology curricula that require it. The flipped lecture format has been similarly documented to improve student-teacher interaction and student engagement. This work attempts to address whether flipping a difficult, demanding thermodynamics course improves student self-efficacy.

Student surveys were conducted in multiple sections of a thermodynamics course over two years to evaluate student perceptions of the flipped course format. Students had positive perceptions about how class time was used in the flipped lecture style which was expected based on previous literature. Nearly all of the respondents agreed that using class time for discussion and problem-solving was very useful. No specific topic was singled out as unsuitable for the flip format; however several comments suggest that highly conceptual topics or topics that may be difficult to understand without examples are not suited for the flip format. Many students commented that the video lectures allowed them to be more prepared when they went to class and more actively engaged with class material. Most students also agree that they are confident in their ability to solve problems and apply their knowledge to new problems introduced in the course and in their ability to solve related problems in their future academic and professional endeavors. A majority of students also agreed that the course helped them to develop their own questions about the material and become more independent learners. These responses strongly support the use of the flipped class format for teaching technical courses and to improve self-efficacy.

Altaii, K., & Reagle, C. J., & Handley, M. K. (2017, June), Flipping an Engineering Thermodynamics Course to Improve Student Self-Efficacy Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28368

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