Instructors at Missouri University of Science and Technology have been offering certain sections of a mechanics of materials course in an inverted format for the past two years. In this format, students learn the concepts outside of class, using a textbook, animations and videos developed by the authors, and work on homework either individually or in groups during the optional class time. Students take eight multiple-choice exams and a final exam that is common to both the inverted sections and the more traditional lecture-based sections. Homework in the inverted sections is assigned but not graded. The in-class exams are given in a computer lab, and each student receives an individualized set of questions.

Over 1200 students in 18 course sections have participated in either the inverted sections themselves or the other non-traditional sections that preceded the particular format used today. A subset of this group was compared to students in the traditional sections. No statistically significant difference between the two groups was found based on (1) performance on the common final exams or (2) course grade in a structural analysis course.

The animations and videos used by students in the inverted sections are available on a class web site. There are 167 animation modules and 230 videos. The animations contain example problems and exercises. The videos are, on average, six minutes in length and cover concepts, demonstrations, problem strategies, problem solutions, and experiments. The authors use Google Analytics to track how much each piece of content is utilized. The website was accessed 46,500 times, and the content, excluding the animations, was used for a total of 12,700 hours during the past 16 months.

By tracking how students perform on each multiple-choice question, the authors have developed a concept inventory with numerical rankings from the best to worst understood concepts. Combining this with how much each online resource is utilized, the authors can now target development of future course materials on the least-understood concepts and in the format most preferred by the students. An inverted teaching format would not be appropriate for every college course, but it has helped the authors begin looking at their mechanics of materials course in a more scientific, data-driven manner.

Meeting Name

119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (2012: Jun. 20-13, San Antonio, TX)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


The authors would like to acknowledge assistance and financial support from the Missouri University of Science and Technology Educational Technology group and the Missouri University of Science and Technology eFellows Program. They would also like to thank the anonymous ASEE reviewers for their thoughtful comments and suggestions on the draft submission.

Keywords and Phrases

Curricula; Education; Engineering education; Mechanics; Students; Websites, Animation modules; Concept inventories; Mechanics of materials; Multiple choice exam; Multiple choice questions; Problem solutions; Science and Technology; Statistically significant difference, Teaching

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2012 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2012