Test 1 Reflections
Grades are in for Test 1 in General Chemistry. The class averages for test 1 from Fall 2012 (lecture) and test 1 from Fall 2013 (flipped) are not significantly different. Additionally, the ranges of grades from the two semesters are not statistically different. However, when I analyzed the grade frequency graph from Fall 2013, there is an almost perfect bimodal grade distribution.
Since Penn College is an open enrollment college, all students must take a math placement test before scheduling classes (see Appendix at end of blog for math level placement descriptions). The Fall 2012 students (lecture) had an overall higher math placement level than the Fall 2013 students. The Fall 2013 students are having more difficulties with mathematics than with actual chemistry. Over half the students in my class are at or below math level 3 which requires a student to take remedial mathematics courses.
Upon running the statistics, there is a correlation between math level and performance on test 1. This is what I expected. All students must take MTH 006 (Elementary Algebra II) as a pre-requisite for general chemistry. This solves some of the problems, but students need more math experience to hone those reasoning skills required in chemistry. It’s not just about solving problems in chemistry. It’s about looking at a problem and reasoning through it AND looking at an answer to see if it SEEMS correct. I had students report 2.14 atoms are in 7.18 g of copper!
Besides math level, another difference between Fall 2012 and Fall 2013 is that there are 40+ students in one classroom. During the Fall 2012 semester, I had two sections of approximately 20 students. Considering these variables (lower class size and higher math level for Fall 2012), I am pleased that the average on Test 1 in the flipped classroom (Fall 2013) is about the same as in the lecture classroom (Fall 2012).
In addition to math skills, those students who are self-regulated learners (observation only) are doing well in this environment. They come prepared, ask questions, interact with, and teach their classmates. Those students who are less self-regulated or do not know how to learn, are struggling in this environment. Unfortunately, I believe the flipped classroom is widening the gap between the self-regulated learner and those who simply lack study skills (or do not want to put much effort into out-of-class learning). Further, less prepared, less motivated, and less self-regulated learners are now using the flipped classroom as an excuse for their poor performance. I am also much more aware of these deficiencies as I walk around the room helping students. The flipped classroom has exposed deficiencies in student learning and mathematical preparedness.
How will I change what I am doing to accommodate my observations?
I know my students pretty well now. I looked at test performance and personality and assigned in class groups. I even arranged my groups to be in close proximity to other groups that might work well together. My classroom learning environment is not conducive to group work (long tables situated in rows), so I will cluster the groups along corners of the tables front and back. It is my hope that the new groups help build supportive learning networks and the higher performing, more self-regulated students will model how they learn and think. I can talk and talk to my students about how to study, learn, solve problems, but they will learn more from watching how their classmate learn and interact with the content.
Students have a weak current working knowledge of basic arithmetic. Students will need to complete prerequisite, developmental course(s) before attempting any certificate- or degree-level mathematics course. Typically, students assigned to this placement have experienced difficulty with mathematics throughout their education or have been away from mathematics for an extended period of time.
Students’ basic arithmetic skills are adequate, but current working knowledge of elementary algebra, which is required for success in all degree-level mathematics courses, is weak. Students will need to complete prerequisite, developmental course(s) before attempting any degree-level mathematics course. Typically, students assigned to this placement have not taken an algebra course, have experienced difficulty with algebra, or have forgotten algebra concepts because they have not used algebra for a significant length of time.
Students’ elementary algebra skills are adequate and current working knowledge of intermediate algebra is sufficient for success in some college math courses, but not adequate for the College Algebra I level and above. Typically, students who receive this placement have taken at least two high school algebra courses, but may have experienced difficulty with those courses or may have forgotten some algebra concepts because they have not used algebra for a significant length of time.
Students in this placement may begin mathematics courses with MTH113, MTH124, MTH151, MTH153, MTH160, or MTH172. If MTH180 is required for your major, you will be required to take MTH006 to prepare for MTH180.
Placement Four or Five
Students’ current working knowledge of intermediate algebra is sufficient for beginning college math courses up to and including the College Algebra I level, but not Pre-Calculus and above. Typically, students who are assigned to this placement have experienced success in high school Algebra I and II, may have taken a course(s) beyond the Algebra II level, and have usually scored well on the math portion of the SATs.
Students in these placements may begin mathematics courses with any of the math courses mentioned under Placement 3, plus MTH180.
Students’ current working knowledge of algebra is sufficient for all beginning college math courses below the level of Calculus. Typically, students assigned to this placement have experienced success beyond the level of high school Algebra II, may have taken a trigonometry course, and usually have scored very well on the math portion of the SATs.
Students in this placement may begin mathematics courses with any of the courses mentioned under placement 3, 4, or 5, plus MTH190.
Students’ current working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry is very good. Their skills are sufficient for all beginning college math courses including Calculus I. Typically, students assigned this placement have experienced success in high school algebra, trigonometry, and possibly high school calculus. They usually have earned high grades in these courses and have a strong SAT/ACT score in mathematics.