Monthly Archives: November 2013

Success with Solutions in the #Flipclass

Wow!  Just as I was doubting the efficacy of the flipped classroom in an general chemistry class at an open-enrollment college, Test 3 results squelched my doubts.

Test 3 consisted of solution chemistry.  Topics included electrolytes, precipitation reactions, net ionic reactions, molarity, solution stoichiometry, redox, and titrations.  The emphasis was primarily on problem-solving.  I was nervous as many of my students were not very comfortable with taking a “word problem” and converting it to a mathematical statement to solve.  Further, there was only about 3 weeks since the last test.  But, I had record numbers of students attending office hours this past week which gave me more time to spend talking about problem-solving.

And boy did their efforts pay off…. The median on Test 3 was an 81%.  35% of the students earned an A on Test 3!  The grades ranged from a 29-100%.  Compare this to the lecture class from Fall 2012 where only 16% of the students earned an A on the same test.

However, about 35% of the students earned Ds and Fs on Test 3 in both the lecture (Fall 2012) and flipped classroom (Fall 2013).  From this, I will go out on a limb with this conclusion:  The flipped classroom is helping the higher performing students (more self-regulated, directed learner), but not the less motivated/prepared/struggling student.   I am not seeing an increase in success for the less motivated student.  In fact, the grade distribution is more polar and has an almost inverted bell-curve.  View the graphical results here.  

I plan on asking the students for feedback regarding how they prepared for this test compared to previous tests.  There was not as much “memorizing” information like naming, molecular geometry, etc.  Maybe they just buckled down and studied harder.  I’m hoping they will be candid with me.

I’m looking forward to the next few weeks as we wrap up the semester and prepare for the final exam.  I hope they see the benefits of the flipped classroom and are willing to tell me what works and what doesn’t work.  I love to learn from my students and continue to change what I do based on their input.  By the time I’m ready to retire, I might perfect this thing called teaching.

Making connections in the #flippedclassroom

We had a really good day in gen chem.  Instead of assigning a vodcast quiz with notes, I asked students to view the vodcast and/or read the textbook and complete about 7 problems from the text.  These problems were fairly simple problems that a student could do after reading or viewing the vodcast.  My office hour immediately before class was packed!  So many of the students sought out help with the problems.  I was able to give these students one-on-one attention and they came to class really “getting” solution stoichiometry and titrations.

As a result, in class these same students were able to progress more easily through the “in class” problems and tutor their peers more effectively.  I noticed excitement in the class as a whole.  They were gaining confidence in their ability.  Students were making connections.  Finally!

On a different note…. a friend of mine works with high school students.  I had presented the flipped classroom idea to a group of teachers from my local school district.  Two teachers (one science and the other calculus), started flipping this year.  My friend said the group of HS students were saying great things about their flipped class experience.  They love it and think they are learning so much more!  This is a quote taken directly from Ms. Persun’s (Calculus teacher) email to me and school administrators.

“Good morning!  I wanted to share the results of the student survey on the flipped classroom.  The students completed this survey late September.  I will probably do another quick survey after our next test or at the end of the nine weeks to see if any thoughts have changed.  If you click on the link it should take you to the results.

Some of the responses are very interesting.  I think the thing that stands out to me the most is that from the students perspective the vast majority like the flipped classroom.  I have one very strong opinion the opposite direction from a student and maybe one or two more that are not 100% sure.  Also you can see that 91% of the students feel that working on the problem sets in class increases their comfort level for problem-solving and 87% feel like their problem solving skills have developed.  No one said that it doesn’t help them!  Another important aspect is that 91% said that they pause and rewind the video.  By far I think this is the best thing about flipping.  They can hear and see the content as many times as they need!

Also after analyzing our first test compared to the three previous years the average was up a few points, not drastic results.  But any improvement is good as far as I am concerned”.

We need more educators who are “risk-takers”. We need share our ideas and best practices and find what works with our students.  I’m so excited to be a part of the flipped class movement.

The results are in….

Test 2 in the #flipped general chemistry class has been graded.  The median was a 75%.  The grades ranged from an 8%-100%.  14% of the grades were below a 50% and of those below a 50% over 2/3rds did not do the homework that was assigned.  The median is not statistically different from the lecture class, but again, the range of grades is quite different.

Grades from test 2 in the lecture class from Fall 2012 ranged from 39-94%, but only 4.5% of the students earned grades below 50%.  I do have 10% more students in the flipped class section who entered college at the remedial math level.  But, I don’t think math level entering college predicts success in a flipped classroom.

What I do see is that students are doing less problems outside of class.  Since we primarily work on problems in class, I don’t think many do problems outside of class to reinforce the concepts.  In fact, I don’t think many are reading or viewing the vodcasts either.   I give vodcast quizzes to “make” them view the vodcasts, but even this does not seem to motivate them all of the students.

I have made other interesting observations from both my forensics and gen chem classes.  I assigned groups based on performance on test 1.  I assumed the best group dynamic would be a high, middle, and lower achiever.  Wrong!  Most of the high achievers only want to work with high or middle achievers. They are getting frustrated and seem to not want to waste time explaining the concepts.  The middle to low achievers are intimidated to work with the high achievers because they don’t want to appear to not know anything or the high achiever moves too quickly through a problem.  My best group/partners are like achievers. Interesting……  Although, this observation may not have external validity.

Another observation is the lack of note taking when powerpoint slides are available.  When checking student notes, these “notes” in forensics consist of just the ppt, nothing added.  I have a few who will add to the notes (and those students have earned higher grades… surprise).  As a result, I have decided to NOT provide ppt files to my students.  I will let them take notes the old-fashioned way:  writing the information down.  I may need to give a lesson on note-taking.  Anyone already have this lesson as a vodcast?

There are only 4 weeks left in the semester.  I hope to continue to post my observations.  I will be administering a survey about the flipped classroom in both forensics and gen chem.  I am looking forward to reading the results.