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Reducing Costs While Maintaining Learning Outcomes Using Blended, Flipped, and Mastery Pedagogy to Teach Introduction to Environmental Engineering
Proceedings of the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (2017, Columbus, OH)
  • Daniel B. Oerther, Missouri University of Science and Technology

As part of a cost-savings initiative, an existing course of 'introduction to environmental engineering' offered using a 'traditional' format of didactic class meetings supplemented with hands-on laboratory sessions, was changed significantly. The 'modified' format uses 'blended', 'flipped', and 'mastery' approaches to teach "2601: Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering" to approximately 60 sophomores pursuing baccalaureate degrees in environmental, civil, or architectural engineering, each semester. This paper presents a summary of the results from eight course offerings over a period of four years to more than 450 total students. Assessments included student grades; open-ended invitations for anonymous feedback at the end of each semester; anonymous, online surveys at a mid-point and at the end of each semester; the results of a common quiz administered in the first week of a follow-up course on water and wastewater treatment; and in-depth, qualitative feedback from a selection of high-performing students collected during face-to-face interviews during a follow-up course of independent, undergraduate research. In brief, a portion of didactic class meetings was replaced with prerecorded, online digital lectures providing students with an opportunity for asynchronous, self-paced learning. The remaining twelve, 'required' face-to-face, inductive learning sessions promoted improved learning in the cognitive domain and introduced learning in the affective domain. A flipped-classroom coupled with a modified approach to mastery-learning 'required' students to review instructional content before meeting face-to-face including: a) reading the textbook; b) watching pre-recorded, online digital lectures; c) mastering online quizzes; and d) submitting written homework. All students who completed all 'required' assignments before the published deadline were assigned a grade of 'C', for the course. Students who completed additional 'optional' assignments had the potential to earn a grade of 'B' or 'A', for the course. The take home messages for this paper include: (1) a substantial initial investment of time may be needed to create course content using blended, flipped, and mastery pedagogy; (2) group and individual written work, oral presentations, and essays can be used side-by-side with quizzes, a midterm exam, and a final exam to create an 'all-you-care-to-eat buffet approach' to earn grades; (3) implementing a 'one miss' policy for 'required' assignments helps to lower student anxiety over grades; (4) costs were reduced and student learning was maintained through blended, flipped, and mastery pedagogy; (5) many students enjoy the new approach because they appreciate clear expectations and a flexible course format; (6) some students strongly resist the modified format; and (7) a willingness to persevere despite trial-and-error is necessary as students adapt to the new approach.

Meeting Name
2017 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (2017: Jun. 24-28, Columbus, OH)
Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
Keywords and Phrases
  • Cost engineering,
  • Cost reduction,
  • Costs,
  • Curricula,
  • Engineering education,
  • Environmental engineering,
  • Students,
  • Teaching,
  • Wastewater treatment,
  • Water treatment,
  • Architectural engineering,
  • Baccalaureate degrees,
  • Face-to-face interview,
  • Hands-on laboratories,
  • Qualitative feedback,
  • Self-paced learning,
  • Undergraduate research,
  • Water and wastewater treatments,
  • Education
Document Type
Article - Conference proceedings
Document Version
Final Version
File Type
© 2017 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), All rights reserved.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Daniel B. Oerther. "Reducing Costs While Maintaining Learning Outcomes Using Blended, Flipped, and Mastery Pedagogy to Teach Introduction to Environmental Engineering" Proceedings of the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (2017, Columbus, OH) (2017) ISSN: 2153-5965
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