Before the Flip Begins

Today is the first day of classes. I am teaching forensic science and general chemistry and flipping both classes.

Students in my forensics class choose this class as their science elective course. Only paralegal students take it as part of their majors.  So, for the most part, students take it based upon interest in the course. Students in general chemistry are mostly pre-physician assistants.  General chemistry is a required course and admission to the program is partly dependent on the grades earned.  Basically, students in forensics are not as concerned about “getting an A” as students in general chemistry.

Prior to any class, I send students a Welcome Email.  This semester I sent both classes a Welcome email with an overview of the flipped classroom.  I also had students in both classes post an introduction to the discussion board including any concerns they had.

Students began posting Introductions last week.  I have made a very interesting observation.  Many students taking Gen Chem list the “flipped classroom teaching style” as their biggest concern.  In fact, one student already emailed me wanting to find another section that is taught traditionally.  This student commented that their admission to the PA program was dependent on the grade in gen chem and did not feel comfortable learning this way.

While a few forensics students listed the flipped classroom as a concern, this did not occur to the extent it did in the gen chem class.  My hypothesis is that students who are focused on grades versus learning (extrinsically motivated versus intrinsically motivated to learn) do not want to move out of their comfort zone. Listening to a teacher lecture has worked for them.  I can’t blame them for being nervous…. this is a huge change from what they have experienced for 13 years.

I have not met with my gen chem students yet.  I am looking forward to talking with my gen chem students about how they will learn in the flipped classroom.  After meeting with my forensics classes today, I think most of their apprehension is gone or at the very least, minimized.  I am anxious to hear their thoughts on Friday when I ask them to reflect about their experiences.



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