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Pilot Hole Approach with Partially Flipped Classroom

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Yumin Zhang Southeast Missouri State University

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Yumin Zhang is a professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology, Southeast Missouri State University. His research interests include semiconductor devices, electronic circuits, neural networks, and engineering education.

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David K. Probst P.E. Southeast Missouri State University

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David Probst is a professor in the Engineering and Technology Department at Southeast Missouri State University. He previously served as chair of the Physics and Engineering Physics Department for 18 years. Prior to joining Southeast, he was with McDonnell Douglas Corporation (now the Boeing Company) in St. Louis, MO.

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Pilot Hole Approach with Partially Flipped Classroom

Engineering courses can be divided into two categories: understanding-intensive and practice-intensive courses. The course of Circuit Analysis falls into the second category. In principle, Kirchhoff’s laws can be applied in solving all the DC and AC circuits. Furthermore, these laws are very easy to understand. However, many students have trouble in solving circuit problems, and the skills they need cannot be taught effectively without practice.

Just like the process of learning any skills, initially students usually struggle for a certain amount of time before figuring out the right solution. This process is considered frustrating for many students, who are used to finding answers just by googling. Since the solution manuals for most textbooks can be downloaded from the internet, many students take this shortcut and bypass the struggle in solving problems with the new methods learned in this course.

To prevent students screwing up, a pilot hole approach was adopted. After a homework was assigned, students were given half of a class time to work on these problems in small groups. During this session that lasted 25 minutes, students were not able to completely solve all the problems assigned, but they could get started and discuss ways to solve the problems. After the class, they were able to complete the solutions. Because these problems were half-solved and the methods were already identified, students were less likely to abandon their work and copy from the solution manual.

Compared with the approach of a fully-flipped classroom, this pilot hole approach can strike a balance between teaching and practice. In general, 75% of class time was used for teaching, and 25% of class time was reserved for the practice sessions. In this way, it did not cause substantial reduction in teaching, so the coverage was kept the same as with traditional instruction approach.

At the end of the semester, students completed a survey with the following questions: (a) How often do you need to use solution manual in completing homework assignments? (b) Is the exercise session helpful in doing the homework assignments? (c) If there were no exercise sessions, would you become more dependent on the solution manual? The survey results showed that the dependence on solution manual was rather weak, and some students just used it to check the correctness of their final results, instead of copying the solutions.

Zhang, Y., & Probst, D. K. (2019, June), Pilot Hole Approach with Partially Flipped Classroom Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33170

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