Flipped Classroom


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interactive classroomDr. Evan Lemley, a Professor of Engineering and Physics at the University of Central Oklahoma, has been using a flipped classroom in varying degrees for a few different classes. During the Fall of 2012, he taught Thermodynamics in a flipped format. During the semester, students would watch and take notes on Pencasts before coming to class. Pencasts are essentially movies of written lecture notes with audio commentary. Click HERE to see an example of Dr. Lemley’s pencasts. In addition, many students, without even being instructed to, took thorough notes while reading their textbooks which, according to Dr. Lemley, had not been happening in previous courses.

Students also used out of class time to work on homework assignments and projects. Dr. Lemley kept track of student progress with the notes and homework as this was a part of their homework grade. Students in this course would typically be done with the homework assignments several days before it was due. Dr. Lemley said, “This was also something I have not experienced in teaching before - often the homework is last minute, but not in this case.”

In-class time was focused on helping individuals and groups of students with concepts and problem-solving barriers. Dr. Lemley was continuously moving around “intervening” in the problem solving and other discussions. There was also a major design project for the course where students did research and analysis using what they had learned in the class and documented the project in a report. Dr. Lemley used a great deal of time in class addressing student questions and giving other feedback about this project which is meant to simulate a professional engineering project. According to Dr. Lemley, there was a tremendous value-added to the project by having the flexibility to discuss the project in person rather than using the class time to lecture.

The scores on the final exam were quite a bit higher when compared to the same course in the past. Dr. Lemley has written a paper about this that was presented in June 2013 at the American Society of Engineering Education meeting. You can read this paper HERE.

A student in one of Dr. Lemley’s flipped classes (Heat Transfer), had this to say in an email:

I just wanted to say that myself and some of the students that I have been working with all feel we are gaining an unbelievable understanding of Heat Transfer from this new teaching method you adopted. It is a lot of work (probably significantly more for you) but we can now almost break down problems second nature. Something I have never been able to do this early into a course. I hear of a lot of professors trying to encourage working in groups and trying problems over and over using various styles until you can get the right answer, but that has never been implemented correctly. I wasn't really thinking about it until now, but on each problem I am calling different students to see what they did and almost every time I gain a better understanding about that particular problem. For instance, me and [a fellow student] worked on [a given problem] for a good part of the day on Tuesday. This wasn't because the problem was necessarily hard, but we were trying to learn exactly why different assumptions worked and why other failed. In the end we figured  what works, but more importantly, we know what and why different methods do not work. I know this is one of your goals for this teaching method and I just wanted to let you know that it is working very well. It's a lengthy process, but I am very confident I will be able to do heat transfer in an industrial position once I complete this course.