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Impact of flipped labs and lectures on student outcomes during the pandemic for a lower division Computer Engineering course

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2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption"



Publication Date

April 23, 2021

Start Date

April 23, 2021

End Date

April 25, 2021

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Jelena Trajkovic CSU Long Beach

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Jelena Trajkovic received her Ph.D. (2009) and MS (2003) in information and computer science from the University of California, Irvine, and a Dipl. Ing. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Belgrade, Serbia (2000). She was a ReSMiQ postdoctoral scholar at Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal (2010-2012) and an Assistant Professor (2012-2018) and an Affiliate Assistant Professor appointment (2018-2020) in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Concordia University in Montreal. She joined Computer Engineering and Computer Science department at California State University, Long Beach
as an Assistant Professor in 2018. Dr. Trajkovic has extensive research experience in the domains of network-on-chip, silicon photonics, multicore systems, parallel applications, avionics systems. Her research also expands to the fields of computing and engineering education and diversity-focused work. Her research has been recognized by three Best Paper conference Awards. She is also the recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award at Concordia University (2016).

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Our university is a minority serving institution and one of the largest and most diverse American four-year universities. The student body comprises over 50% low-income and over 50% first-generation college students, which poses unique challenges for online leaning. This paper presents the lessons learned during the emergency transition to online instructions (Spring 2020) and during fully online instructions (Fall 2020) on an example of a 200-level engineering class “Computer Logic Design I”, with typical enrollment of 35-55 students. The course covers theoretical and design concepts during the lectures and solidifies them using hands-on lab assignments, where the students learn a hardware design language and novel tools to implement their designs. Prior to the pandemic we noticed that due to the steep learning curve, the students who do not grasp language concepts or develop familiarity with the tools within the first 6 weeks of the semester tend to fall behind, thus obtaining a low grade. In Fall 2019, we implemented the lab component of the course in a “flipped classroom” model. Each lab assignment supported one concept learned in class (theory and modeling), one skill for using the tool and one language construct. We also prepared a set of video lectures that the students need to cover prior to the lab session. Preliminary analysis shows that 78.25% of the students successfully submitted all of the lab assignments in Spring 2020 compared to 67.74% in Fall 2019, showing the impact of the “flipped” labs approach, even during a challenging semester with an abrupt transition to online instructions. The success of lab outcomes, coupled with the time management issues faced by students in Spring 2020, motivated us to introduce “flipped” approach to lectures as well. For each class, we prepared mini-video lectures and a quiz, which was due before each class. We also prepared a set of problems that the students would solve, in teams, during the synchronous class time. To facilitate time management, we provided weekly announcements, weekly homework problems, and (bi-)weekly lab assignments, utilizing our online learning management system. Students shared that the “flipped” approach helped them keep up with the topic discussed in class, which we believe is one of the key factors to student success. We will present the quantitative comparison of student outcomes (grades): - prior to the introduction of “flipped” labs (Fall 2018, Spring 2019), - during a semester with “flipped” labs and face-to-face instructions (Fall 2019), - during a semester with transition to online teaching with “flipped” labs (Spring 2020), and - during a semester with full online teaching with “flipped” class and labs (Fall 2020). Our quantitative analysis demonstrated the significant positive impact of “flipped” lectures on the outcomes (exam and lab grades), by comparing the data from Fall 2018 to Fall 2020. We also evaluated the correlation between a specific activity of “flipped class” with the student’s outcome. Based on the quantitative analyses, we recommend a set of practices developed during online-only pandemic instruction that would be helpful in a face-to-face environment post-pandemic.

Trajkovic, J. (2021, April), Impact of flipped labs and lectures on student outcomes during the pandemic for a lower division Computer Engineering course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption", Virtual.

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