This semester, CEEN 360 was my first flipped classroom, class. I was very skeptical going into the semester, so I will share some of my thoughts from the semester about this method of teaching.

Over the past few years I have read numerous articles and papers claiming that high school and university education in the US is broken and using flipped classrooms is the way to fix it. My perspective is obviously from an engineering education background, so I cannot comment much on social science or liberal arts teaching/learning methods. I always felt that lectures work for me, and that I learned the material well. Some of this is because of the types of classes I take. It is extremely difficult to teach yourself calculus, without some instructor guidance. Similarly, the concepts behind mechanics of materials are not hard, but until they are not intuitive until you know how several of the parts all work together.

With this background I was not only skeptical, but disappointed that I would have to change my learning method. Once classes started I found that the material learned in CEEN 360 was much more conducive to a flipped classroom than any of my previous courses. It was also very nice to apply what we learned in class activities.

I will state that it is easier to “cheat the system” because there is less accountability that the homework readings were done, and it was possible to bluff your way through the in class assignments. The real test will be how well the final assess the course as a whole, and not a student’s ability to cram.

As I was preparing this post I realized that this flipped class is not so much different from the lecture classes that I like the best. The reason is that I like when a lecture uses lots of worked examples on the board after introducing the theory. I remember material best when I write it down, which the examples allow me to do. Then I understand the material when I do problems on my own in the form of homework. This is a similar format to the flipped class, with applied projects.

While a flipped class worked for CEEN 360, I would think very carefully before applying it to other engineering classes.