Online-Only Statics Compared to Flipped Class
Enrollment pressures in engineering can encourage departments to offer online or distance versions of critical path classes. Materials developed for a flipped classroom offer a tempting path to the online-only environment. We compared the performance of students in the flipped sections vs the online-only sections using identical graded assignments and statistical profiling to determine whether the online-only class was equivalent in student learning outcomes. Message boards and office hours were available for all students. Students performed statistically significantly worse in the online-only class with grades that were approximately 6 points lower than those in the flipped class. Flipping the class is known to have an increase in student grades over lecture of about the same amount. We conclude that the flipped classroom is better than the online-only version of Statics with the caveat that online-only Statics does offer a pathway to students who would not otherwise be able to take the class at all.