Flipping the Electromagnetic Theory classroom
14th Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2017
Electromagnetic Theory is a required junior-year course for Optics majors at the University of Rochester. This foundational course gives students their first rigorous exposure to electromagnetic vector fields, dipole radiation patterns, Fresnel reflection/transmission coefficients, waveguided modes, Jones vectors, waveplates, birefringence, and the Lorentz model of refractive index. To increase the percentage of class time devoted to student-centered conceptual reasoning and instructor
... instructor feedback, this course was recently "flipped". Nearly all of the mathematically-intensive derivations were converted to narrated screencasts ("Khan Academy" style) and made available to students through the course's learning management system. On average, the students were assigned two 10-15 minute videos to watch in advance of each lecture. An electronic survey after each tutorial encouraged reflection and counted towards the student's participation grade. Over the past three years, students have consistently rated the videos as being highly valuable. This presentation will discuss the technical aspects of creating tutorial videos and the educational tradeoffs of flipping a mathematically-intensive upper-level course. The most important advantage is the instructor's increased ability to identify and respond to student confusion, via activities that would consume too much time in a lecture-centered course. Several examples of such activities will be given. Two pitfalls to avoid are the temptation for the instructor not to update the videos from year to year and the tendency of students not to take lecture notes while watching the videos.