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Variations on Flipping a First-year Engineering Computing Course

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 5: Using Video, Games, and More in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1698.1 - 26.1698.13



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Paper Authors


Gregory Warren Bucks University of Cincinnati

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Gregory Bucks joined the Department of Engineering Education in 2012. He received his BSEE from the Pennsylvania State University in 2004, his MSECE from Purdue University in 2006, and his PhD in Engineering Education in 2010, also from Purdue University. After completing his PhD, he taught for two years at Ohio Northern University in the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science department, before making the transition to the University of Cincinnati. He has taught a variety of classes ranging introductory programming and first-year engineering design courses to introductory and advanced courses in electronic circuits. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE, and ACM.

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Kathleen A. Ossman University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Kathleen A. Ossman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at the University of Cincinnati. She teaches primarily freshmen with a focus on programming and problem solving. Dr. Ossman is interested in active learning, flipped classrooms, and other strategies that help students become self-directed learners.

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Variations on Flipping a First-Year Engineering Computing CourseAt a large university in the mid-west, three common courses were introduced during the 2012-2013 school year to provide first-year students with hands-on experiences in engineering and alink between engineering and the required mathematics and science courses. Two of thesecourses, Engineering Models I and II, form a two-semester sequence of interdisciplinary coursesin which students apply fundamental theory from algebra, trigonometry, calculus and physics torelevant engineering applications chosen from a variety of disciplines. MATLAB® is introducedand progressively developed as a programming tool to enable students to explore engineeringconcepts, to investigate solutions to problems too complex for hand solutions, to analyze andpresent data effectively, and to develop an appreciation of the power and limitations of computertools. Students are introduced to such ideas as interpolation, curve-fitting, and numericdifferentiation and integration, through applications areas such as data analysis, imageprocessing, communications, position tracking, basic mechanics, and system modeling. Bothcourses culminate with an end-of-semester team project requiring the students to use MATLAB®to develop a solution to an open-ended design problem.The Engineering Models sequence was required for all incoming first-year engineering andengineering technology students starting with the 2012-2013 academic year. Lectures, recitationactivities, homework assignments, exams, and projects were common across all sections, thoughsome variation existed in how lectures were delivered. As a result of this variation and commentsprovided by students on end-of-semester surveys, a flipped pedagogy was for the 2013-2014academic year in these courses. In a flipped pedagogy, traditional lecture content is assigned ashomework, freeing the instructor to use the designated lecture time to focus on solving problemsand addressing common misconceptions. For the Engineering Models I and II courses, videoswere created from the lecture material covered in the first offering. Students were required towatch these videos prior to lecture and take a short quiz at the start of each lecture. Lecture timewas then devoted to solving problems, either in small groups or as a class.Feedback from students led to the development of several modifications to the course. Despitethe development of lecture videos, several instructors still did not utilize lecture periods forproblem solving and instead presented the same lecture content from the videos. Students alsofelt that the videos, while very helpful, were too long. To address this, the videos were remadeand edited to keep the length to around 10 minutes and more effort was made to provideinstructors with resources for problem-solving activities.It was also found that many students preferred to simply review the provided slides instead ofwatching the lectures. To cater to those students who did not gain much from the videos, asystem was piloted with several sections of the class that is more interactive. The system wascreated in MATLAB and was modeled after the successful online site Codecademy, wherestudents will be presented with course content and be asked to complete simple exercises basedon this material. In addition, practice quizzes were developed to allow them to test theirknowledge prior to attending lecture, regardless of the method used to prepare.This paper will use data from end-of-semester student surveys to analyze the effectiveness of thevarious modifications made for the 2014-2015 academic year offering of the course.

Bucks, G. W., & Ossman, K. A. (2015, June), Variations on Flipping a First-year Engineering Computing Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25034

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