Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 304-313
ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2018.1069
Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain
Current job markets demand professionals with knowledge and technical skills, while many teaching curricula at Universities lack training in tools commonly employed in professional practice. In this context, the Ground Engineering and the Geological and Mining Engineering Departments of the Technical University of Madrid are supporting the learning of professional geotechnical software. During the academic year 2017/2018, a Flipped Classroom methodology for the learning of a professional software for slope stability analysis has been developed.

There are two main difficulties to learn these tools at Universities: the different levels of students’ skills and backgrounds that makes it difficult to find an adequate peace of teaching; and the shortage of time, so that contact hours which should be used for more advanced activities are employed in the basics of the program. Because of this, we have employed a Flipped Classroom methodology with the aid of educational videos. The Flipped Classroom methodology allows students to set their own working pace, so that contact hours can be employed to conduct activities that reinforce a deeper learning. In this contribution we present the results obtained with the Flipped Classroom approach, and we compare them with the results of a previous experience (Arcos et al., 2017).

The methodology was tested in the “Special Foundations” Course, from the 8th Semester of our Civil Engineering Bachelor´s program; the geotechnical software “Slide” ---a Rocscience´s 2D slope stability analysis program--- was employed. After several lectures in which the basic concepts about slope stability were introduced, we proposed a voluntary activity for students who wanted to learn the software. To that end, three videos of 10-15 minutes that demonstrated how to use the program were provided:
1. Basic skills;
2. Introduction to support measures;
3. Practical cases. Later on, we had a lecture in which the students solved (in groups) a real design problem using the program.

To evaluate the student’s experiences, and their degree of learning, we conducted quantitative tests before and after the activity and surveys. Due to the low number of students (22), we did not employ a control group, although we compared the results with those of students registered in the course who did not participate in the experience. The results are positive but limited: students enjoy this type of teaching, and the methodology seems adequate to learn software programs. However, the results of the tests do not demonstrate an improved students´ knowledge, suggesting that teaching using software only might be counter-productive. Finally, we point out several methodological aspects that could increase the efficiency of this type of teaching.
Flipped classroom, geotechnical software, educational videos, UPM.