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Lessons Learned in Teaching Heat Transfer with a Flipped Classroom

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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

Flipped Classrooms in Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Francis Wessling University of Alabama, Huntsville

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Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, 1985 - present
Former Chair of the Department (1999 - 2003, 2007)
Fellow, ASME
Associate Director, Consortium for Materials Development in Space 1985 - 1999
Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of New Mexico, 1967 - 1979

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Sarah A Roller University of Alabama in Huntsville

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Sarah A. Roller is an Assistant Professor in Mathematics Education at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She received her Ph.D. in curriculum, teaching, and educational policy from Michigan State University. Her research interests include teacher preparation and mentoring practices, research-based instructional strategies for teaching mathematics and STEM education, and teacher development.

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With increasing amounts of technology readily available, many secondary and post-secondary instructors have begun utilizing a flipped classroom approach to support student learning. Described broadly, this approach “flips” traditional lectures outside the classroom with video technology and uses class time to engage students in problem solving that is facilitated by the instructor. This paper describes students’ perceptions and reactions to one college professor’s attempt to utilize a flipped classroom model with his engineering students. Further discussion is offered in the paper analyzing the ways in which the course structure evolved and the lessons learned. The professor assumed that the traditional lecture method for an engineering course could be improved by adopting a flipped classroom approach. Students were to view online lectures and complete homework problems before class. Class time was dedicated to students randomly being selected to share their homework solutions. The selected student would dictate his or her solution while the professor recorded it on the board while prompting student explanations with questions. Students would get participation points depending on the quality of the solution; otherwise homework was not collected nor graded. The course was conducted as described for seven weeks of the semester in the fall of 2015. Several students verbally and in writing objected to the professor’s use of a flipped classroom, and eventually sent a letter to the university administration, with a copy to the professor. The administration stated that the professor had improved teaching as a goal and that he was free to experiment with teaching methods. The professor then held a class discussion about the “flipped” teaching method. Student objections were numerous. Their main complaints were: 1) that having to watch recorded lectures added more than three additional hours to their study time, 2) they did not sign up for an “online” class, 3) they had no warning the class would be conducted in a “flipped” manner, and 4) they wanted live face-to-face interchanges with the teacher in lecture sessions. The teacher wanted more student participation in class, increased achievement, and, students to develop their ability to explain and justify their solutions as a skill for their future careers. Data were also collected via a student survey. Many of the students were overly committed and did not devote adequate time to the course. Records of viewing activity showed that fewer than 10% of the students watched online lectures. Many students indicated that they did not like being held accountable for homework presentations. The students and the professor compromised by having one hour of each (90 minute) class period devoted to student presentations and thirty minutes to teacher lecture on the material relevant to the next course topic. The professor also consulted with a teacher education professor to reflect on this flipped classroom experience. Overall, this study provides data regarding student perceptions of flipped classrooms and also considers ways that professors can support student participation in an engineering course.

Wessling, F., & Roller, S. A. (2016, June), Lessons Learned in Teaching Heat Transfer with a Flipped Classroom Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25555

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