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Teaching a Hazardous Waste Management Course using an Inverted Classroom

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Environmental engineering pedagogy and innovation

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1136.1 - 23.1136.13



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Paper Authors


Angela R Bielefeldt University of Colorado Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt, Ph.D., P.E., has been a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) since 1996. Her environmental engineering research focuses on bioremediation of contaminated sites. She has taught hazardous waste management since 1997.

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Teaching a Hazardous Waste Management Course using an Inverted ClassroomIn engineering, the use of class time for active learning rather than traditional lectures is gainingpopularity. There is a growing body of compelling evidence that active learning enhancesstudent learning. However, there are a number of different models to integrate active learninginto the classroom. This research explored the re-design of a senior and graduate level hazardouswaste management course. Historically, the course used class-time primarily for lecturesfacilitated with powerpoint slides and incorporating a few example problems. In fall 2011 aninverted classroom model was used, where the standard lectures were converted into audio-powerpoint files. A standard 75-minute lecture was generally segmented into multiple segmentsof ~15 minutes each. The traditional example problems were still included in the online lectures.The students were tasked with watching these videos before class. During class the primaryfocus was for the students to work in small self-selected groups of two to three to solve a seriesof example problems. Assessment methods used to determine the effectiveness of the revisedcourse model included: student logs showing resource use from the Blackboard software; studentfeedback on an informal in-class survey and the final course evaluations; and a comparison ofstudent knowledge based on performance on the homework and exams.The primary limitation to success of the inverted course model was inconsistent buy-in from thestudents to watch the videos before class. Some complained of the extra time needed to watchthe lectures. There were also some technical difficulties with Mac computers, audio being cut-off, or volume. About 40-60% of the class watched the appropriate online lecture prior to therelevant class time, but by the midterm exam about 90% of the students had viewed the majorityof the online lectures. Student performance was better with the inverted classroom on two offour homework assignments. The average student performance on the midterm exam wassimilar, although the “bottom” of the curve was improved during the inverted class (increasedfrom ~44-53% traditional to 68% inverted). Given the extra instructor requirements and studentresistance, after the midterm exam the course was reverted to the standard in-class lecture model.In the end-of -semester student evaluations, the overall course rating, instructor rating, amountlearned, and workload were similar between the fall 2011 “partially inverted” course and theprevious 4 years of the standard lecture course. Written comments about the inverted classmethod on the FCQs were coded; 54% were generally favorable; 36% were unfavorable orindicated they preferred the normal in-class lectures, 38% noted various technical short-comings,and 31% noted that it took too much time. Plans for future use of the inverted course model andrecommendations to others will be provided.

Bielefeldt, A. R. (2013, June), Teaching a Hazardous Waste Management Course using an Inverted Classroom Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22521

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