Flipped vs Blended (Not Traditional) Course: A Comparison of Student Cognitive and Affective Learning Gains

Project No.
PI Name
Autar Kaw
Target Discipline


Abstract 1

Flipped vs Blended (Not Traditional) Course: A Comparison of Student Cognitive and Affective Learning Gains

Presentation Type
Autar Kaw, University of South Florida; Renee Clark, University of Pittsburgh; Mary Besterfield-Sacre, University of Pittsburgh; Yingyan Lou, Arizona State University; Andrew Scott, Alabama A&M University


Flipping a class is considered an approach to improving student learning gains both in the cognitive and affective domains. In this project, we are comparing a flipped and blended class for the common STEM course of Numerical Methods at three universities (University of South Florida, Arizona State University and Alabama A&M University), each with their own local instructor. The three universities provide a rich diversity in their student populations. The results are independently analyzed by investigators at the University of Pittsburgh.

The need fulfilled by the project is to first find out if flipped classes show improvement relative to blended classes; and if so, for what demographic categories.

This project benefits a diverse group of STEM students by improving their learning gains; and the STEM instructors in having a framework for this pedagogy which is grounded in evidence-based research. This analysis will provide the most generalized information thus far in our research on the comparison of active learning techniques in numerical methods.


The goals of the project are as follows.

1) Compare the effectiveness of a blended classroom to the flipped classroom based on student learning gains of concepts, procedural knowledge, higher-order problem solving, and affective learning. These comparisons are done at a granular level on items such as pre-requisite GPA, gender, race, age, transfer status, and course topics.

2) Disseminate and assess the impact of the findings of the study and resulting best practices via open education resources including social media, conference presentations, and faculty workshops.


To perform the comparisons, we developed a common concept inventory and a semi-common final examination as a form of summative assessment of student-learning gains.

For formative assessment, we developed and implemented new learning tools of limited-attempt self-assessment quizzes (LASQs), personal response system (clicker) quizzes, and targeted in-class exercises.

Several surveys are conducted to measure affective learning. These include surveys on the classroom environment, flipped mode evaluation, and numerical methods self-efficacy.

The data is collected in an ABAB setting at the University of South Florida and in an AB setting at Arizona State University and Alabama A&M University. The data is independently analyzed and reported by evaluators at the University of Pittsburgh.


From an overall perspective based on combining data from the two schools, flipped instruction may be associated with greater achievement with multiple-choice questions across multiple demographics; however, the differences were not significant and the effect sizes were small.

With the free-response questions and the classroom environment dimensions, the results were mixed across the schools, with the blended approach showing more promise with the USF students and the flipped approach doing so at ASU.

The key deliverables of the project are assessment results comparing flipped and blended classes for both the cognitive and affective domains at three diverse universities with three STEM majors and three instructors. Based on this rigorous study, we are developing evidence for the efficacy of flipped courses in STEM majors. We are delivering workshops and presentations on best practices for how to teach a flipped STEM course. The results from Alabama A&M University will be available in summer 2016. This is in congruence with the timeline of the grant proposal.

Broader Impacts

The best practices developed for teaching the Numerical Methods course in an inverted setting will help faculty who are willing to use this modality of teaching for other STEM courses. We have conducted workshops at universities as well as the ASEE-SE conference.

Our experiences are also being disseminated via social media such as Twitter and Chronicle Vitae. The open courseware resources currently receive more than 1,000,000+ page views/year and 1,000,000+ video views/year, while being used in more than 35 institutions.

This project has expanded its impact on STEM education by a collaboration that includes 4 investigators from the University of South Florida, Arizona State University, Alabama A&M University, and the University of Pittsburgh, while ensuring that all materials are developed for and work well with diverse student populations. The focus of the effort has been on underrepresented minorities, non-traditional students including community college transfers, over-traditional-age adults and part-time students, and diverse STEM majors.

Unexpected Challenges

The main challenge in flipped classrooms is the student resistance to this mode of teaching. This resistance was reduced by making resources available in various electronic formats - text, videos, blogs, simulations, etc. We also have a 24/7 discussion board implemented via Piazza where students can ask questions and receive answers and guidance from their peers or/and instructors. The discussion board is also used as a starting point for notifying studying and homework assignments for pre- and post-class activities. The mean response time to student queries ranges from 13 to 22 minutes among the three universities.


R. Clark, A. Kaw, M. Besterfield-Sacre, A. Scott, "How Do You Like Your Course - Blended or Flipped?: A Preliminary Comparison", Proceedings of ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, WA, June 14-17, 2015.

R. Clark, A. Kaw, M. Besterfield-Sacre, モComparison of Active Learning Methods in a Numerical Methods Course, ASEE Advances in Engineering Education, in print.

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