Flipping Large Classrooms using Clickers: The Engineering Economics Experience

20 Minute Research Presentation


Gord Lovegrove – School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan


ENGR 305 is a core course for UBCO’s School of Engineering wherein all disciplines – civil, mechanical, electrical – take it in 3rd year; however, it has no pre-requisites, so often 1st, 2nd, and 4th years are slotted in to meet transfer and co-op credits and schedules. Thus we have a large, diverse, technical oriented crowd forced to enrol in and pass a course on the softer side of life, the social sciences. The material – what formulae there are – is difficult not because of its computational demands, but because of its deceiving simplicity and volume. Recent growth in the School, to a class size of 270, further compounds that this course has become difficult to engage students, despite some of our School’s best instructors teaching it. Moreover, during mid-term season, attendance suffers terribly, and students get behind. The failure rate then becomes a problem, approaching 10% for a non-technical course, a very sad and embarrassing result – we can do better! This year, a radical attempt was made to ‘flip the classroom’ using Clickers and in-class problem sessions, while eliminating mid-terms and take-home assignments. This freed up time to study for other courses, and for weekly, shorter in-class quizzes. Moreover, in-class debates and problem sessions became the norm, with lectures on theory reserved for only 1 out of 3 hours per week. This presentation will focus on what was done, how the students reacted, and the results – did anything improve?