Experiences with flipped learning in subjects in consecutive stages of a Civil Engineering programme

School of Engineering & Advanced Technology, Massey University
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 25th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, 2014, pp. ? - ? (9)
Issue Date:
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CONTEXT Flipped learning is an instructional approach which allows instructors the opportunity to use a blending of online and face to face learning activities. The main affordance of flipped learning is the opportunity to free up class time to allow students and instructors to engage in collaborative learning activities designed to consolidate and deepen conceptual understanding of the subject material. Research has shown that participating in flipped instruction can change the way students approach their studies and improve motivation. PURPOSE OR GOAL We are interested in students’ experience of the flipped environment, particularly their expectations of a learning environment, and the level of responsibility they take for their own learning. The purpose of this analysis is to create a baseline against which future instances of flipped learning can be compared. APPROACH Student perceptions of flipped instruction were investigated through survey responses and observations of students in a first year subject (Engineering Mechanics) a second year subject (Engineering Computations) and a third year subject (Construction Materials) in a Civil Engineering degree programme. In particular, students were asked to explain the impact of the flipped activities on their learning experience including any changes in how they approach their studies or managed their time. OUTCOMES Most students in each of the three subjects agreed that they ‘liked’ flipped instruction compared to the traditional lecture format. The majority of students in each subject also agreed that it is reasonable to expect students to prepare before attending a face to face session. However, some students made strong negative comments demonstrating how the flipped environment did not meet their expectations of how learning should be organised. This study suggests that students in the second and third year subjects were not necessarily showing signs of better self-regulation and time management skills or being more comfortable with taking more responsibility for their own learning. CONCLUSIONS Flipped learning challenges students to develop metacognitive skills such as time management, self-regulation and self-evaluation, while providing opportunities to deepen conceptual understanding of the subject material. Given the different experience of students, both within a particular subject and between subjects at different stages of their degree, we need to provide scaffolding to assist students to understand how to make the most of these learning opportunities, including how to approach them, evaluate their learning, develop their judgement and the required learning skills.
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