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On-line learning practices of millennial students in the flipped classroom

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2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting


Tempe, Arizona

Publication Date

April 20, 2017

Start Date

April 20, 2017

End Date

April 22, 2017

Conference Session

Technical Session 2b

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Pacific Southwest Section

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Jean-michel I. Maarek University of Southern California

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Jean-Michel Maarek is professor of engineering practice and director of undergraduate affairs in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. His educational interested include engaged learning, the flipped classroom, student assessment, and innovative laboratories

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On-line learning practices of millennial students in the flipped classroom

Millennials designate the generation born between 1982 and 2005. The millennials have a unique relationship to information technology which they consider an integral part of life. They tend to be always busy, impatient, and with a short attention span, which leads them to multitask using various forms of electronic communication and devices [1]. Millennial students are team-oriented; they prefer working in cooperative groups and learning experientially through trial-and-error (hacking).

The flipped classroom approach was popularized around 2007 as millennials were in high school. In this approach, short recorded lessons available online for the students to view before coming to class replace traditional classroom lectures. Class time is used for application exercises usually done in groups, experimentation, and other team activities in which student learning takes a central role. The flipped classroom approach appears well-suited to accommodate the unique characteristics of the millennial generation [2].

We investigated the lesson viewing patterns of two cohorts of engineering students enrolled in two junior and senior flipped classroom courses on basic analog electronics and LabVIEW programming. The electronics course is offered in the Spring semester and comprises an even mix of juniors and seniors (~45 students/class). The programming course is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters to seniors (~25 – 40 students/class). Short (< 20 min) narrated PowerPoint lessons were posted on the Learning Management System. The latter kept track of whether the students viewed the lessons entirely (coded 1), in part (coded 0.5), or not at all (coded 0). The sum of the codes expressed as a percentage of the maximum represented the “viewing score” for each student in each course.

The viewing scores of 56 students who enrolled in both courses were highly and positively correlated (p < 0.01) suggesting that students tended to watch the lessons with similar assiduity for the two courses. There was no correlation between the viewing score and the final exam score in the analog electronics course (p = 0.22) while there was a significant positive correlation (p < 0.01) between the viewing score and the final exam score in the programming course. This observation could be linked to the availability of a textbook for the electronics course such that a fraction of students could have learned the course material mostly from the textbook. The video lessons were the main source of learning material for the programming course, such that viewing the lessons diligently would have benefited performance on the final exam. In the programming course, students had a lower viewing score for the Spring semester compared to the Fall (57.6 vs. 80.1, p < 0.01), possibly because getting closer to graduation decreased their motivation to study.

These results suggest that millennial engineering students vary in their approach to online learning in the flipped classroom with some students favoring traditional learning sources. Use of online lessons can be used to better understand the students’ learning habits.


1 Monaco M. and Martin M. The millennial student: a new generation of learners. Athletic Training Association Journal, 2:42-46, 2007.

2 Phillips C.R, and Trainor J.E. Millennial students and the flipped classroom. Proceedings of ASBBS, 21, 519-528, 2014.

Maarek, J. I. (2017, April), On-line learning practices of millennial students in the flipped classroom Paper presented at 2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, Tempe, Arizona. 10.18260/1-2--29228

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