Reengineering an engineering course: How flipped classrooms afford transformative teaching, learning, and workplace competency

Funding year: 
2014
Duration:
2 years
Organisation: 
University of Waikato
Sector: 
Post school sector
Project start date: 
January 2015
Project end date: 
March 2017
Principal investigator(s): 
Dr. Mira Peter and Dr Elaine Khoo
Research team members: 
Professor Jonathan Scott, Associate Professor Howell Round, Professor Bronwen Cowie
Research partners: 
Researcher/Practioner partners: Professor Jonathan Scott, Associate Professor Howell Round

Project description

The research team will collaborate with tertiary lecturers in electronics engineering to explore how an extended flipped classroom model can enhance student learning of threshold concepts (TCs) in a mandatory first-year electronic engineering class. We will also document how student mastery of TCs and learning of non-technical skills in a flipped classroom can translate into their workplace competency.

Aims

Threshold concepts (TCs) are disciplinary concepts that students need to master in order to think and act like a subject specialist. At the same time, a flipped classroom is a student-centered learning approach that allows lecturer-student contact time to be devoted to students’ questions and problem-solving. In a flipped class, learning materials, accessible through online modalities, are assigned as take-home tasks that students are supposed to do before they come to the class. The aim of this project is to investigate how a TC-based flipped class approach to teaching and learning can enhance first-year students’ learning of TC technical and non-technical skills necessary to be a successful engineering graduate. The three-fold objectives of our research are: (1) to examine the effects of the flipped classroom on students’ learning of TCs, (2) to explore the ‘affordances’ of the flipped classroom model of teaching in a first-year compulsory electronics engineering course, and, (3) to examine the long-term impact (beyond the classroom) of the flipped class on the development of students’ workplace competencies.

Why is this research important?

Engineers have a key role to play in translating knowledge into the innovative competitive products and services central to today’s increasingly technology-driven society. Successful engineering graduates therefore not only need to have a deep understanding of engineering principles and practices but also need to be able to work in teams, to communicate well, to self-assess and improve their abilities and performance, and to work in contexts that can be risky and uncertain. Thus, it is crucial that tertiary educators develop curricula that enable students to develop these capacities and so enhance student employability and their capacity to contribute to New Zealand’s economic competitiveness and societal wellbeing.

What we plan to do

The research team will collaborate with two electronic engineering lecturers through using design- based research (DBR) approach to examine the impact of a TC-based flip pedagogical approach in a first-year course.

Data

Multiple data sources will be collected through:
• lecturer interviews,
• student focus group interviews,
• observations (video recordings and field notes) during the flipped classes,
• learning management system (Moodle) usage logs,
• student activity in on online tutorials,
• student activity in video materials viewing,
• student assessment of their laboratory books and work placement reports,
• student surveys, and
• student achievement in quizzes and final exam

Analysis

Data from various sources will be integrated to track changes in lecturer pedagogy and student in-class and workplace learning and development. Statistical analysis will be conducted on the quantitative data to show differences and trends in student achievement (i.e., quiz scores, laboratory assessment scores, final examinations, evaluation of workplace competencies) and opinions, (i.e., students’ surveys). Qualitative data will be analysed using thematic analysis to develop themes through inductive reasoning.

Our partners

Research Mentor: Professor Bronwen Cowie
Practitioner-Researcher (Electronics engineering): Professor Jonathan Scott

Practitioner-Researcher (Electronics engineering): Associate Professor Howell Round

  

 


Publications from the project

Khoo, E., Peter, M., & Cowie, B. (2015). Re-engineering an engineering course: How flipped classrooms afford transformative teaching,
learning, and workplace competency. Journal of Research in STEM Education, 1(1), 71–76. Retrieved from http://j-stem.net/wpcontent/
uploads/2015/10/6_NZ.pdf
Khoo, E., Peter, M., & Scott, J. (2015). I could replay the videos: Evaluating the effectiveness of instructional videos in a threshold
concept-based flipped classroom in electronic engineering. In A. Oo, A. Patel, T. Hilditch, & S. Chandran (Eds.), The proceedings of
the 26th annual conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE2015) (pp. 422–431). Melbourne, VA: Deakin
University.
Khoo, E., Scott, J., Peter, M., & Round, H. (2015). Evaluating flipped classrooms with respect to threshold concepts learning in
undergraduate engineering. In Frontiers in Education (FIE2015): Launching a new vision in engineering education (pp. 738–741).
Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE), Piscataway, NJ. USA.
Peter, M., Khoo, E., Scott, J., & Round, H. (2016). Learning threshold concepts in an undergraduate engineering flipped classroom. In
N. Wright (Ed.), DEANZ2016 proceedings: There and back again: Charting flexible pathways in open, mobile and distance education (pp.
111–115). Hamilton: University of Waikato.
Scott, J., Khoo, E., Peter, M., & Howell, R. (2016, December). Flipped classroom learning in a large introductory undergraduate
engineering course. In Proceedings of the 27th Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE) conference Coffs Harbour,
NSW, Australia.

Presentations and workshops from the project

Gilliver, C. (2016, February). Lights, camera, action: Flipping classes in electronics engineering education. Poster presented at the Summer
Research Scholarship end function, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Khoo, E. G. L., & Peter, M. (2016, November 14). Flipping an engineering class. Teaching Network workshop on Flipped Teaching and
Flexible Learning by Centre for Tertiary Teaching and Learning, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Peter, M., & Khoo, E. (2016, August 16). The flipped classroom. Workshop presentation to academic visitors from Zhejiang University
City College (ZUCC). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Peter, M., Khoo, E., & Scott, J. (2015, August 11). The flipped classroom. Invited workshop presentation for a staff exchange programme
with Zhejiang University City College (ZUCC) and Hebei University of Science and Technology (HEBUST), University of Waikato,
Hamilton, New Zealand.
Peter, M., Khoo, E., Scott, J., & Round, H. (2015, September 8–11). Reengineering an engineering course: How flipped classrooms afford
transformative teaching, learning, and workplace competency. ECER2015 Education and Transition conference, Budapest, Hungary.
Peter, M., Khoo, E., Scott, J., Round, H., & Cowie, B. (2015, June 18). Reengineering an engineering course: How flipped classrooms afford
transformative teaching, learning and workplace competency. Presented at the Digital Learning symposium, conference/workshop
held in Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.waikato.ac.nz/wmier/news-events/digital-literacy-symposium
Peter, M., Khoo, E., Scott, J., Round, H., & Cowie, B. (2015, August 31–September 1). Reengineering an engineering course: How flipped
classrooms afford transformative teaching, learning, and workplace competency. National Project Fund and Teaching & Learning
Research Initiative Projects in Progress Colloquium V. Te Raukura—Te Wharewaka o Pàneke Function Centre, Wellington, New
Zealand.
Scott, J. (2016, February). Recording video with a lightboard. Presentation at WCELfest16, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Available at http://coursecast.its.waikato.ac.nz/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=e001f57...
Scott, J., Gilliver, C., Peter, M., & Khoo, E. (2015, February 12). Easy over: A 3-week mid-semester trial flipping a practical paper. Presented
at WCELfest2015, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Available at http://coursecast.its.waikato.ac.nz/Panopto/Pages/
Viewer.aspx?id=f4e5f311-b92f-4284-9cc9-5db1643a3cf3
Scott, J., Peter, M., & Khoo, E. (2015, May 20). Swapping is the new flipping: Preliminary impressions using video lectures in a large,
hands-on class with threshold concept emphasis. Presented at TEMS ED Research Centre Fall Seminar Series, University of Waikato,
Hamilton, New Zealand.