Monthly Archives: October 2013

#Students and the #flipclass

I wanted to write a brief entry after comments made recently from two students. The first student is in my gen chem class.  This student has really made great strides since the first exam.  She is asking questions during class and doing a great job helping her in class group mate.  Since I had this student before, I can tell you that her whole attitude has changed.  When I commented on how well she was doing, she attributed it to being able to help and teach her group mate.  She said that she is learning more by teaching.  The flipped classroom may be most useful for these opportunities… the increased student-to-student interactions.

Similarly, a student in my forensics class made another very interesting comment.  I have to literally force students to stay on task in forensics.  I commented that the one group who were really discussing the answers and spending time writing detailed answers probably had a combined average of a high B on Test 2.  A student who I have to force to stay on task replied, “this class is just an elective for me”.  This student is only looking for a passing grade so that he can check off the science requirement.  There is no need to learn the material.  This attitude towards learning forensics is consistent with him being externally regulated in his motivation.  To read more about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation towards learning, find the Ryan and Deci (2000) article here.  


The autonomous learning environment developed in the flipped classroom is motivating for some students. No learning environment will cause the “D for diploma” student to become more motivated to learn.  And trust me….. I do everything to make forensics interesting and relevant…. guest speakers, case studies, and class discussions.  I don’t think I can add much more to my dog and pony show.  It is really up to the student.

#Flipclass #Increased test scores… for some

Last week’s test in a flipped forensics class resulted in an increase in student success by about 4% compared to a similar test administered to students after delivering the content via a traditional lecture.  I was very surprised by the significant increase in student exam scores and found that the flipped classroom approach increased the number of As and Bs earned on Test 2.

As you can see from the grade distribution, a greater percentage of students earned a B or higher on test 2.  (18% in the lecture and 24% in the flipped classroom) I consider this a significant increase especially since about 5 flipped class students came to take the test unprepared.  (They claim they did not know there was an exam…. it was on the News feed and LMS calendar).

However, I also notice that many students still come to the in class meetings completely unprepared.  They do not take notes on the vodcast claiming they do not have time to watch them.  They do not listen when I review the content at the beginning of class which, in conjunction with not viewing the podcasts, results in poor vodcast quiz grades.  Some students do nothing outside of class.

I realize that some students in the lecture class also did nothing outside of class, but these students could “hide” and it not be so obvious to me and their classmates that they did nothing.  As a result of this apparent lack of outside work, I am more frustrated with the obvious lack of motivation to learn not just the content, but anything.  Most blame hectic work schedules for the inability to do anything, but I think it’s just an amotivation towards learning.  They want a degree for minimum to no effort.

The recent article in the Chronicle, ‘Flipping’ Classrooms May Not Make Much Difference reflects what I am also finding in my flipped classroom:  The flipped classroom is not helping all students and is not the “silver bullet” for education.  However, it is improving the learning skills of some students.

The flipped classroom is a wonderful learning environment for the motivated, self-regulated learner.  It allows for deeper learning for these motivated students at the expense of the amotivated students.  Will any learning environment meet the needs of an amotivated student?  Are college faculty to teach to the middle so that no college student is left behind as our K-12 colleagues have to teach?  Personally, I want to teach students to learn to love to learn.  Giving them skills that enhance self-regulated learning is foundational for life-long learners.  It is really up to the student to decide whether he or she wants these skills.

#FlipClass #Research

Not too much to report in my classes.  Students seem to have adjusted to viewing the idea of out-of-class knowledge acquisition.  Next week will be the real test… test 2 in both forensics and gen chem.  I am very optimistic as I believe the level of learning has increased.  This observation is based on the questions students are asking in class and during office hours.

As a doctoral student, I am knee-deep in the literature and have Google Scholar alerts on both constructivism and the flipped classroom sent to my inbox.  Just in the past two weeks, there have been several really good studies in higher education worth referencing.  There was also the article in the New York Times, Turning Education Upside Down.  As many articles, this piece was focused on K-12.  Higher ed is different as we don’t meet with our students on a daily basis so consistency of this learning environment is more difficult to establish.

With that said, I would like to direct you to two recent articles related to nursing education.

Here are the full text articles:  Missildine_2013 and Mcdonald_2013

The Missildine article is a very interesting read and is aligned with what I am finding in my general chemistry course.  The flipped classroom was found to improve learning but students were not satisfied with the environment compared to the traditional lecture.  The authors contributed the decrease in satisfaction to what students perceived as a “loss of a supportive social system”.  Students were also frustrated with access and reliability of the technology.

My students are expressing similar sentiments.  To address this, I allow almost 30 minutes of “just-in-time” lecture.  Again, problems arise when students don’t view the vodcast or read the textbook; students can’t even ask me questions.  Conversely, those students who do come prepared are frustrated that they have to hear a “lecture” when they are ready to start the problems.

The flipped classroom is not the silver bullet for education, but it’s leading us in a positive direction.  We just have to change the mindset of the student about what makes good learning.  Once students see the benefit of active learning, I believe perceptions and ultimately satisfaction with the flipped classroom will change.

#Motivation in #Flipclass

Week 7 in the flip class was fairly uneventful.  Students seem to be settling into the routine.  The Forensics students seem to have adjusted better.  I asked for feedback via note cards and only one said he/she preferred the lecture.  Most really liked the fact that they could work with each other on the questions.  There are a few students that are not motivated in class to work on the answers collaboratively.  These students come to class unprepared and do not do well on the vodcast quiz.  This doesn’t seem to be a concern to them.  I am guessing that these students are the “D=degree”-minded students.  Not much motivation to really learn the material; just pass the class to earn a degree.

Gen Chem is going better.  BUT the concepts are not focused on mathematics.  Naming and drawing Lewis structures requires little math and more memorization.  It will be interesting when I ask them to think about shape and reactivity.  I am hoping they will be able to evaluate.

Interesting statistics… 39% of the students earned less than a 70% on test 1.  Of these students, only one came to see me during office hours as requested.  25% of the students in the class failed to submit their Connect assignment (online homework set of 22 questions) last week.  Students are permitted to work on Connect and in class problems during our face-to-face time.  Most students who are not passing the class are blaming the flipped classroom learning environment (communication from academic success staff).  These are the same students who are not coming prepared to class or completing the Connect problems.  I really feel that success is attributed to motivation to learn and good ole GRIT.  (read about self-determination theory here).

However, I am seeing that those semi-motivated students are becoming more motivated (extrinsic to intrinsically motivated) in the flipped classroom.  These students are starting to ask really good questions and are working more collaboratively in class modeling self-regulated learning.  71% of the students earned above a 80% on the quiz last week.  This is a 21% increase from the previous quiz (before test 1).  I am hopeful that Test 2 grades will increase similarly.