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Flipping the Classroom at Scale to Achieve Integration of Theory and Practice in a First-Year Engineering Design and Build Course

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Best of DEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.618.1 - 24.618.13



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Paper Authors


Carl A. Reidsema PhD The University of Queensland

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Associate Professor Carl Reidsema, University of Queensland
Associate Professor Reidsema is a mechanical design engineer with over 12 years industry experience. Beginning his academic career at the University of New South Wales in 2001, he led the Faculty development of the first hands-on active-learning team based first year common course in engineering design “ENGG1000 - Engineering Design and Innovation” involving over 1100 students. In 2010 he was appointed to the position of Director of Teaching and Learning for the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Queensland in where he then led the successful development of the Flipped Classroom model for integrating theory with design practice in a first year engineering design course “ENGG1200 – Engineering Modelling and Problem Solving” with over 1200 students. Dr. Reidsema’s work is centred around the notion of Transformational Change in Higher Education which is reflected by his success in securing grants and industry funding for research and development in this area exceeding $3M including a 2008 Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Project “Design based curriculum reform” and the 2013 Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) Project “Radical transformation: re-imagining engineering education through flipping the classroom in a global learning partnership” partnering with Stanford, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Sydney RMIT universities. He has received numerous nominations and awards for teaching including the UNSW Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2006 and has over 60 peer-reviewed publications in engineering education and design. He is regularly invited to speak on the topic of transformational change and innovative curriculum at Universities and Industry events.

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Lydia Kavanagh The University of Queensland

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Since returning to academia from industry in 1998, Associate Professor Lydia Kavanagh has become a leader in engineering education and has used her background as a professional engineer to design both curricula and courses for active learning by combining real-world projects and specialist knowledge. She has had a significant impact on the delivery of UQ’s undergraduate engineering program through creative new teaching pedagogies including the Flipped Classroom, innovative authentic approaches to assessment, and the introduction of multi-disciplinary courses. As Director of First Year Engineering, Lydia is also responsible for a significant program of extra-curricular transition support for first year students. Lydia’s work was recognised with a national Excellence in teaching award in 2011 and she has lead and participated in national projects on teamwork, online learning, curriculum innovation (2x), preparing students for first year engineering, and Flipped Classrooms.

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Lesley Jolly Strategic Partnerships

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My original work as an anthropologist was with Australian indigenous peoples but in 1996 I was approached to undertake an ethnography of the first-year engineering class at the University of Queensland with a view to understanding the gender dynamics there. Since then my association with engineers and engineering has grown to dominate my research life. I have continued to pursue my contact with engineers through a variety of research projects, the supervision of PhD students in engineering problems that have social dimensions and by establishing and leading the new Research Methods Interest Group of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE). In that capacity I have run workshops on research methods and educational evaluation in Australia and New Zealand and was a founder leader of the annual AAEE Winter School for engineering education research. In the last three years I have completed two CRC projects; Evaluation of Simulators in Train Driver Training and Towards a National Framework for Competence Assurance for Train drivers. I have also recently managed an ALTC project called Curriculum Change through Theory-Driven Evaluation on behalf of the University of Queensland.

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Flipping the Classroom at Scale to Achieve Integration of Theory and Practice in a First Year Engineering Design and Build Course  A  critical  challenge  in  the  development  of  first  year  engineering  “cornerstone”  design  courses  centres  around  the  need  to  deliver  a  culturally  acceptable  balance  of  core  engineering  fundamentals  (theory)  that  seamlessly  integrate  with  authentic  hands-­‐on  project-­‐based  engineering  design  activities  (practice),  engages  all  engineering  disciplines,  allows  for  scale-­‐up,  and  ensures  students  actually  achieve  both  requisite  theoretical  knowledge  and  professional  behaviour  learning  outcomes.  A  large  scale  (1200  students)  Flipped  Classroom  (FC)  second  semester  first  year  engineering  compulsory  course  was  designed,  implemented,  operated  and  evaluated  at  a  leading  research-­‐intensive  university  in  Australia  over  the  past  3  years  to  address  these  challenges.    The  FC  model  is  distinguished  from  ‘blended  learning’  in  that  it  has  specific  implications  not  just  in  the  balance  of  how  much  material  is  delivered  online  but  in  the  corresponding  focus  of  face-­‐to-­‐face  interactions  grounded  in  authentic  disciplinary  practices.    Integrating  theory  with  practice  in  this  way  is  necessary  to  drive  deeper  conceptual  understanding  of  engineering  fundamentals  (Dori  &  Belcher,  2005;  Prince,  2004).      This  new  first  year  course  shifts  in  its  treatment  of  design  from  the  preceding  course  which  conceptually  introduces  the  design  process  and  results  in  hand-­‐tool  built  proof  of  concept  models  towards  the  application  of  virtual  prototyping  and  physical  manufacturing  of  behaviourally  accurate  sub-­‐system  assemblies.  In  the  new  course,  students  learn  and  apply  structured  engineering  methods  for  detailed  design  moving  quickly  to  creating  virtual  structural  and  behavioural  models  using  CAD/CNC  and  MatLab.  Final  testing  allows  validation  of  predicted  performance  of  the  manufactured  product  in  an  end  of  semester  demonstration.  A  key  learning  outcome  was  to  make  explicit  the  extent  to  which  virtual  models  can  be  relied  upon  to  accurately  predict  the  performance  of  physical  models.  The  FC  model  allowed  delivery  of  engineering  materials  fundamentals  by  making  use  of  students’  ubiquitous  access  to  technology.  The  increasing  capabilities  of  online  learning  tools,  and  the  ease  with  which  short,  high  quality  “content-­‐oriented”  learning  videos  can  be  created  (a  priori  or  as  needed),  delivered  and  re-­‐used,  also  allowed  for  ongoing  adaptive  curriculum  design  refinement  to  occur.  Passive  lectures  were  replaced  with  massive  (600  students/hr)  active  learning  workshops  facilitating  the  development  of  design  process  knowledge.  Technical  learning  outcomes  (engineering  materials  and  modelling/  problem  solving)  were  addressed  through  smaller  active  learning  workshops  (90  students/2hr/wk),  aligned  to  an  in-­‐house  custom  designed  video-­‐based  online  learning  system.  A  broad  based  evaluation  was  undertaken  drawing  on  observational,  survey  and  interview  data  suggesting  that  first  year  student  conceptions  of  learning  align  with  ‘being  taught’  and  having  what  they  need  to  know  clearly  stated  with  resources  that  are  familiar  to  them  laid  out  and  well  structured  (Entwistle,  2004).  Student’s  expectation  of  a  “well-­‐structured”  learning  experience  are  at  odds  with  the  inherent  “ill-­‐structuredness”  of  design  which  poses  a  significant  challenge  for  engineering  design  educators.  This  paper  will  elaborate  on  the  curriculum  design  rationale  for  this  course,  it’s  organisational  and  institution  implementation,  operational  implications  and  results  of  the  extensive  and  ongoing  evaluation.     Pedagogical  Model  for  ENGG1200  Week  1   Week  7   Week  10   Week  13   Theory/Content   Tools   Team-­‐Based  Learning   Online  Learning   Build/Test/ Teamwork   Integrated  Learning   UQ  Centre  Workshops   Design  Brief   Concept   SoluJon   Detailed  Design   ImplementaJon   Delivery   Problem  Defn   GeneraJon   EvaluaJon   Team   Design  Ambiguity   Performance  

Reidsema, C. A., & Kavanagh, L., & Jolly, L. (2014, June), Flipping the Classroom at Scale to Achieve Integration of Theory and Practice in a First-Year Engineering Design and Build Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20509

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