Monthly Archives: January 2014

New Beginnings #Flipclass

I wanted to wait a few weeks into the Spring semester before I entered a new blog post about flipping my general chemistry and Forensics classes.  As you may have read in previous blog postings, I had difficulties with the flipped class structure in my general chemistry class last semester.  Basically, most students hated it.   To that end, I decided not to label the learning environment as the “flipped class” and just let students accept that this is the course structure… it is not special, or new, or an experiment.  It’s a method I believe will provide them with the best instruction.

Even though last semester was VERY challenging (and even discouraging), I learned A LOT and took some student suggestions and revamped the flipped class structure.  This is what I am doing now…..

I broke each chapter into Lessons.  Each lesson consists of 4 activities and I advised students to do them in order.

1.  View the vodcast (s).  I made my own (10-15 minutes in length) and also provided vodcasts from the internet (Bozeman Science, Tyler Dewitt, and Khan Academy were my favorites).  I told students they could watch me, any of the others, or all of them.

2.  Section readings that correspond to the vodcasts.

3.  Virtual lectures which is from Mastering Chemistry and consists of a whiteboard and narrator explaining and showing problem solving.

4.  Problems that should be done before class (check your understanding) and a Gate Check (Google form that is both a self-assessment and place for students to write Muddy and Clear points).

I explained the order as this….  Steps 1 and 2 are knowledge acquisition.  Step 3 is step-by-step show how to apply knowledge.  Step 4  is a way for students to try problems and self-assess their understanding.  The Gate Check is a way for me to check whether they have acquired the knowledge, determine what needs to be addressed, and whether the student did what they were supposed to do before class.

I start each class by going over the Gate Check.  I am going to try to cut this time down as students told me that they don’t want to spend this much time hearing me talk.  They want to get to the in class problems.  In class, I give them more problems to solve in groups.  They work on them together and get help from me as needed.

When a student is finished, I check their work and let them leave.  They were initially shocked that I let them leave class early.  I told them that this is their time with me.  If they understand everything, got all the problems correct, and don’t need me to explain any concepts to them, they can leave.  They are adults and are paying good money to learn.  I am not going to make them stay if they finished everything.  The students LOVED this!  In fact, I am seeing that even though they are finished, many are choosing to stay in class to discuss more or just collaborate with their peers.  Giving them the autonomy to make decisions about how they learn, when they learn, and time spent on learning seems to be motivating them to learn better (autonomy support).

I also eliminated the “high stakes” chapter quizzes that were taken in class.  Instead, students will take a quiz online in the LMS.  I adjusted each quiz to select 10 questions from a pool of 50-100 questions.  Students can take a quiz up to 3 times with the attempt with the highest score counting.  I encouraged students to take the quiz 3 times even though they earned a high grade on their first attempt.  By doing this, the focus of this summative assessment has moved from performance to learning.  It is my hope that less focus on performance will lower the test anxiety.

So many changes in my approach.  I hope that I see a marked improvement on student attitude and perceptions of the flipped classroom.