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Flipping the Engineering Classroom: Results and Observations with Non-Engineering Students

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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

Tricks of the Trade

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.620.1 - 24.620.21



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Paper Authors


Steven Chene Chetcuti United States Military Academy

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Major Steven C. Chetcuti serves as an Instructor of Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He has taught undergraduate courses in statics, mechanics of materials, thermal-fluid
systems, and aerodynamics. Major Chetcuti graduated from West Point in
2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He also holds a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan.
Commissioned as an Aviation and Military Intelligence Officer, he is rated in both rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft. His former assignments include Flight Platoon Leader, Battalion Adjutant (Personnel Officer), Flight Company Commander, and assistant Battalion Operations Officer where he has served both stateside and overseas in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Hans J. Thomas P.E. U.S. Military Academy

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Hans Thomas is a Major in the US Army, and is currently an Instructor in the Civil & Mechanical Engineering Department at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He has his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Military Academy (2002), his Master of Science in Engineering Management from Missouri Science & Technology (2008) and his Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington (2012). His teaching focus is thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and aerodynamics.

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Brent J. Pafford U.S. Military Academy

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Major Brent Pafford serves as an Instructor of Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated from West Point in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Brent also holds a Master's of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Commissioned as an Aviation Officer, his former assignments include Air Cavalry Platoon Leader, and Distribution Platoon Leader, assistant operations officer, and Troop Commander.

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Flipping the Engineering Classroom: Results and Observations with Non-engineering Students Flipping a classroom is an innovative teaching method in itself. This method facesadditional challenges when the students are not actually engineering majors. The purpose of thispaper is to discuss the development, implementation, and assessment of a flipped classroom for athermal-fluids course for non-engineering majors. Problem solving is a critical component of engineering education; an engineering studentcannot only read problem statements or solely attend a lecture. However, duration of studentcontact in the classroom is constrained by credit hours. In a local survey, most students indicatedthat they would not take the time to complete not-for-grade problems on their own after class.For many of these students, graded homework assignments are the first and only experience theyhave in solving complex engineering problems prior to exams. By only receiving lectures andstruggling to work homework problems individually, it is arguable that few of these students areable to progress beyond the lower tiers of Bloom’s taxonomy. Historical time survey datasuggests that the students conduct little to no daily preparation when there are no gradedrequirements, and conversely show extremely large time spikes when out of class assignmentsare due or prior to in-class evaluations. Finally, in class lectures force an instructor to teach acertain amount of material in a limited timeframe irrespective of the rate at which each studentcan retain or comprehend that information regardless of the experience level of the student. Inspired by the pedagogical concept of ‘flipping the classroom’ which has gained recentpopularity due in part to the work of the Khan Academy and its online instructional videos, and aclassical college teaching method whereby students would prepared prior to class and recited thetopic to their instructors and receive daily evaluations, the authors created a blended course thatleverages the digital age through video lectures before class and combined it with traditionalengineering problem solving in class. The goals of this blended course are as follows: improvethe quality and efficiency of student learning by conducting lectures outside of class andhomework during class; allow non-engineering students to learn each lesson’s material at theirown pace and provide a valuable study tool for exam preparation; increase the time spent inclassroom solving problems with instructors; leverage one-on-one time in the classroom wherethe instructor can better approach each individual’s issues; encourage and enable non-engineering students to take more responsibility for their learning and become lifelong learners;and inspire intellectual curiosity in the field of engineering. The instructors developedpreliminary beta test for the initial third of an undergraduate introductory course in thermal-fluidsystems and kept the remainder of the course unchanged from its traditional lecture method togain student feedback. This feedback was used to develop a completely blended courseconsisting of non-engineering majors which is currently being implemented and will conclude atthe end of the semester; the results of which will be studied and presented in this paper.

Chetcuti, S. C., & Thomas, H. J., & Pafford, B. J. (2014, June), Flipping the Engineering Classroom: Results and Observations with Non-Engineering Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20511

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