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Understanding the Benefits of the Flipped Classroom in the Context of Sustainable Engineering

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Innovative Teaching Techniques in the Classroom

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1295.1 - 24.1295.13



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Paper Authors

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Jayne Marks University of Pittsburgh

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Kevin J. Ketchman University of Pittsburgh


David R. Riley II Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. David Riley is a faculty member in the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering. His fields of expertise include education for sustainability, sustainable building methods, renewable energy deployment, and sustainable housing design. Dr Riley directed Penn State's Center for Sustainability (now Sustainability Institute) from 2005 to 2013. He currently serves as the Senior Resident Scholar and Reinvention Fund Program Manager for the Institute. Dr. Riley also leads multiple DOE funded energy centers, including the Northern Mid-Atlantic Solar Education and Resource Center, and the Grid-Smart Application and Resource Center. In 2009 he initiated the launch of the National Energy Leadership Corps (NELC), a hands-on program that challenges college students to engage residents in their communities in meaningful home energy and sustainability planning and actions. He is now working with collaborators at numerous institutions to advance the and replicate the NELC in sustainable and high-impact applications.

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Lisa Riley Brown Penn State University

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Melissa M. Bilec University of Pittsburgh

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Understanding the Benefits of the Flipped Classroom in the Context of Sustainable EngineeringAuthors: Jayne Marks, Kevin Ketchman, Lisa Brown, David Riley, Melissa BilecEngineering is a field marked by critical thinking, problem solving, and application of vast amounts ofscientific and technical knowledge. However, many college classes in this major focus on learningscientific material and often do not provide an opportunity for students to apply this material or developthe above skills necessary for success in the field. Because of this disconnect, not only in engineering,but also in classrooms everywhere, a teaching method known as the flipped classroom is gainingconsideration and implementation in education. With the flipped classroom, live class lectures are oftenmoved out of classroom and replaced with on-line videos, and active, project-based learning activitiesare done in their place. At the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and Pennsylvania State University (PennState) two sustainable engineering courses were flipped, and the impact this method had on thestudents was investigated.The sustainable engineering courses were centered around the National Energy Leadership Corps(NELC), a program designed to educate students and homeowners on energy use, efficiency, andindependence. Students were trained during one semester to conduct energy assessments inresidential single-family homes. Aspects of the courses included data collection (using an iPadapplication designed for NELC), infrared camera, and calculations of energy efficiency measures (EEM).The students delivered a report containing energy reductions and monetary savings for thehomeowner’s use in implementing retrofits.During this study, data was collected using pre- and post-confidence tests, a final course reflectionsurvey, and the College and University Classroom Environment Inventory (CUCEI). This data was thenanalyzed and used to develop conclusions on the students’ perception of the flipped classroom teachingmethod and the course.Students in both courses frequently expressed that they learned various personal skills such asleadership, listening, and communication, which were consistent with class objectives. The tones of thestudent responses were generally positive, and on the CUCEI, the students scored the class environmentabove average. The highest scoring section of the CUCEI, 4 out of 5, was “Personalization,” whichincludes professor availability, and highlights how a flipped classroom provides students with moreopportunity to interact and connect personally with the teacher. As expected, the “Involvement”section, pertaining to student participation in in-class activities and class discussions, scored high at 3.94out of 5. Removing lectures from the classroom created an active learning environment where moretime was dedicated to activities and discussions, in line with findings by Toto and Hien (2009). Studentcomments such as, “It was great that there was always time in class to ask about the module and topics Ididn’t understand,” or, “I thought it created a more comfortable learning environment in class andallowed students to learn in their own way at home,” further strengthen the conclusion that theflipped classroom is a successful teaching method for sustainable engineering courses.

Marks, J., & Ketchman, K. J., & Riley, D. R., & Riley Brown, L., & Bilec, M. M. (2014, June), Understanding the Benefits of the Flipped Classroom in the Context of Sustainable Engineering Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23228

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