It has taken me a few days to really reflect on this semester’s experiences with the flipped classroom. During the semester, I decided to make major changes next semester on the implementation of the flipped classroom and vodcasts based on student input and my observations. I will give you the list of my changes after my reflections.
About half the class tolerated and saw value to the flipped classroom. The other half vehemently (and I use this strong descriptor based on course evaluation comments) opposed this method of learning. “Hate the flipped classroom”, “Horrible experience”, and “She doesn’t teach” are just a few comments from students. Others saw value in the process, but stated that in class there were so many students off task and “not prepared” which resulted in class distractions. Whole lectures had to be repeated because students did not come in prepared. Yes, I gave them a quiz on the reading/vodcast upon entering. This did not seem to encourage them to come prepared. Students viewed the flipped classroom as my crazy idea and lashed out at me personally for making them learn this way.
The vodcasts were MediaSite recorded classroom captured lectures from a previous semester. Students complained that they were “poor quality” and difficult to follow because of the student questioning in class. Students said they were too long. I ASSUMED that students would prefer a more authentic lecture… me in front of students… rather than a “lecture” in an office. I ASSUMED college students could pay attention for more than 10 minutes to a vodcast since they have to pay attention in other college classes sometimes up to 75 minutes. Changing the vodcast presentation and length will be the biggest change in the upcoming semester.
These are the changes I plan on making:
I have two sections of gen chem with under 20 students in each. With my one section, I will explain that this flipped classroom idea is not my crazy idea. This is a national trend in education. There is a body of evidence that supports this learning environment. I am hoping this gives me credibility. With my other section, I plan on being a “stealth flipper”. No need to make it seem like this is anything new or different. This is the way I teach because it is best for the student.
Each chapter will consist of 3-8 lessons. Each lesson will include a series of vodcasts, virtual lectures, section reading, before class problems, and a Gate Check. This is a lot of work, but I will remind students that a 3 credit class = 1 hour in class/2 hours outside of class.
1. Provide short vodcasts from a variety of sources (Bozeman Science, Tyler Dewitt, Socratic.org) as well as my own vodcasts. I just don’t have the time between semesters to produce all the quality vodcasts I need. I am still wrestling with a good way to produce these. I am leaning towards using a pdf annotator and capturing using Camtasia.
2. In addition to the vodcasts, the new textbook I choose includes Mastering Chemistry. Mastering Chemistry provides short video clips of problems being solved on a whiteboard. I included these as part of each lesson and labeled them as “virtual lectures”.
3. I assigned a few problems for the students to attempt BEFORE class. I call these “before class problems” (not very creative). I did this a few times during this past semester in lieu of the vodcast quiz. Students seemed to find this more valuable than a vodcast quiz.
4. Provide students with a Gate Check BEFORE class. I plan to use Google forms as a way to assess whether students viewed the vodcast lessons. Within the Gate check, I plan on asking students to write their muddy and clear points on the Gate Check. I will begin each class showing their anonymous, aggregated, responses. It is my hope that we can focus on the content that is most confusing.
During class, students will work on problems in groups from the text and Mastering chemistry. I have a 3 hour lab so I don’t think I need to introduce any “hands-on” activities during class. I might try a few POGIL activities if time permits. Since so many of my students did not come prepared to class this past semester, we fell behind. Most did not complete the in class problems during class because they could not even begin them.
I will also collect the in class problems for a grade. I did not do this this past semester as I ASSUMED college students would complete them. I was reminded that unless an activity is graded, some students will not complete it.
I will not give up on teaching in the flipped classroom! My husband is encouraging me to “just lecture. It’s what college students expect and want”. I have never taken the easy road… I was a chemistry major! I believe in this way of teaching. I want my own children taught this way.
Even though most did not like the flipped classroom, I believe my students learned how to study.. When I asked them this question on a survey (did your study habits change?), they stated that they “had to study differently”, “find information outside the text”, “learn to take better notes”, “learn information on my own”, and “studied for the first time”. They hated the flipped classroom, but many changed the way they studied and learned (or learned how to study… which is what many stated).
I am not here to win a popularity contest. I teach to help students learn how to learn and love to learn to learn. Hopefully, the skills they acquired (grudgingly) this semester will be useful throughout their academic careers and lifelong learning endeavors.