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Heat Transfer – Student Response to an Inverted Format

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

New Teaching Pedagogies: Methods and Assessments

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.839.1 - 26.839.14



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Paper Authors


Martha Cyr Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Dr. Martha Cyr has been teaching for the Mechanical Engineering Department at WPI since 2003. In addition, she helped to found the STEM Education Center at WPI and is currently the Executive Director. Prior to her positions at WPI, Dr. Cyr worked at Tufts University for nine years as a member of the Mechanical Engineering faculty and the Director of the Center for Engineering Educational Outreach. Along with her academic experience, she has three years of corporate experience working as a thermal engineering at Data General. She received her B.S.M.E. from the University of New Hampshire and both her M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from WPI.

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Heat Transfer – Student Response to an Inverted FormatHeat Transfer is one of the foundational courses for engineering students studying bothMechanical and Chemical Engineering. At our institution the class has been taught in atraditional lecture style to an ever-increasing size class. This past year saw 90 students enrolledin the class. Teaching methods are slow to change for a foundational course such as this one.Over recent years the corresponding textbooks have moved towards being more engaging byincluding examples that are more applicable and realistic. And yet the students can still strugglewith mastering the key concepts within the course.In order to address this, the format of the heat transfer course was converted from a moretraditional lecture to an inverted format. The specific inverted (also referred to as flipped) formatthat was selected was set up with the following structure; 1) outside of class time studentswatched short lecture videos and did one or two simple problems related to the concept presentedin the video. 2) During class time the simple problems were passed in and the concept wasbriefly (5-10 min) discussed. 3) A more complex problem on the same concept was distributedand the students worked in teams to solve it while the professor and TAs moved around theroom, addressing their questions. The in class problems could be handed in as students left, orthe next time they came to class. This was the daily format for three of the 50 minute classmeetings a week. A forth class time was used for a weekly quiz.Study results show that students responded well to this format for the course, and overall had ahigher class-passing rate than in prior years. This paper presents the full details of the coursestructure and data on how students utilized this format along with their overall performance.Implications and directions for future versions of the course are discussed.

Cyr, M. (2015, June), Heat Transfer – Student Response to an Inverted Format Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24176

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