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Flipping the Microprocessors Classroom: A Comparative Assessment

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

New Trends in ECE Education I

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Ricky T. Castles East Carolina University

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Dr. Ricky Castles is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering at East Carolina University. He is primarily affiliated with the ECU Electrical Engineering concentration. His research work focuses on the use of wireless sensor networks, microcontrollers, and physiological data collection for a variety of applications. His primary interest is in the area of adaptive tutorial systems, but he has ongoing projects in the area of hospital patient health monitoring. He is actively engaged in K-12 outreach through several venues including Summer Ventures, high school STEM day, the N.C. Science Olympiad, a Math Science Partnership grant, volunteer work with a local literacy camp, Boy Scouts Robotics Merit Badge counseling, and teaching the science portion of VBS and children's Sunday School at his local church.

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At this university, undergraduate students in an electrical engineering concentration within a general engineering program are required to complete a microprocessors course. This course has been taught for three years. During the first two years, the course was offered in a traditional format with 3 weekly lectures and one weekly hands-on lab. It was discovered that the weekly lab time was insufficient to complete several longer lab assignments and many students had to complete their lab assignments outside of the allotted lab period. It was also discovered that many students had misconceptions about course material and often attended office hours to get help understanding the material. During the third year, the instructor flipped the classroom and recorded the lectures and posted them for students to watch before coming to class. While the contact time between the students and instructor remained the same throughout the week, the lecture periods were changed to include hands-on activities such completing worksheets to assess lecture content knowledge, practice writing subroutines that could be used as part of the weekly lab assignment, or building circuits to interface external devices with a microcontroller. Each of the in-class activities was designed to measure student understanding of course topics and to offload some of the laboratory work done during previous semesters to the lecture period.

This paper assesses the differences in student outcomes between the traditional and flipped format of the course. Common final exam question responses from the traditional and flipped offering are compared to showcase the differences in student comprehension of course topics. Student survey results are also assessed to determine the benefits and limitations of the flipped classroom approach versus the traditional classroom format. The shortcomings of the current format are addressed and suggestions for improvement based upon one semester of using a flipped classroom approach are discussed.

Castles, R. T. (2016, June), Flipping the Microprocessors Classroom: A Comparative Assessment Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26928

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