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Importance of Feedback in Introductory Thermodynamics: A Trial Case in Flipped Classroom Instruction

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Pedagogy in Chemical Engineering Education

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Stuart Adler University of Washington

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Formative assessment and descriptive feedback have emerged as key elements of education. Yet most traditional college engineering courses (based on a lecture-homework format) offer few opportunities to provide individual students with descriptive feedback. This paper describes our department’s recent experiences using flipped classroom instruction to improve feedback and attainment in our introductory thermodynamics course in Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington. In our implementation of a flipped class, traditional lectures are replaced with 20~40 minute instructional videos that incorporate course content, laboratory demonstrations, and how-to tutorials. Students view and take notes on these materials outside of class, and take an online “Prep Quiz” that provides feedback on their basic understanding before coming to class. Once in class, students spend most of their time working in table groups on complex multi-part problems that challenge their understanding and provide practice in key skills. As they work, the instructor and TAs check-in with each group, interrogate their thinking and problem solving strategies, and provide on-the-spot descriptive feedback as the students struggle with the material. At the end of each week a zero-stakes “Exit Quiz” provides further feedback, allowing each student to measure how deeply they understand the material. Summative assessment is conducted traditionally with exams, using a standards-based rubric. Six years of final exam data show that the grade distribution under a flipped format is more asymmetric than under a traditional lecture-homework format, with median students performing better relative to the mean. A seventh year of data collected during 100% remote teaching (due to the Covid-19 pandemic) is more difficult to interpret, but exhibits some of the same favorable features in the grade distribution. This paper also describes some of our practical observations and challenges in successfully implementing a flipped class.

Adler, S. (2022, August), Importance of Feedback in Introductory Thermodynamics: A Trial Case in Flipped Classroom Instruction Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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