Tag Archives: flipped classroom

Self-Regulation Tools and the #Flipclass

The first test in General Chemistry has been graded.  The test assessed similar topics to the first test from the Spring 2014 semester except for the addition of naming.  The overall average from the Spring 2014 class was a 60%.  The Fall 2014 class average on Test 1 is a 76%.  Unbelievable!  However, I prefer not to look at overall class averages because the student population changes each semester.  Examining the student average in terms of High School Class rank (top 1/3, middle 1/3, and bottom 1/3) gives a better indication of achievement/success in different learning environments.

Here’s a look at the data:

Class Rank Fall 2014 Test 1 Average Spring 2014 Test 1 Average
1 89.4 68.4
2 71.5 58.25
3 49.8 49.25
Not Given/GED 76.4 61.1

The highest achieving students (top 1/3 of their graduating high school class) in the Fall 2014 class were almost 20% more successful on Test 1 than in the Spring 2014 class.  The middle achievers (middle 1/3 of their graduating HS class) were 23% in the Fall 2014 class more successful on Test 1 than in the Spring 2014 class.  Students whose class rank were not given (mostly non-traditional students) were 15% more successful this semester.  Interestingly, those students graduating in the bottom 1/3 of their high school class were not more or less successful this semester versus in the Spring 2014 semester.

What is different?
I believe asking students to take notes using the Cornell Note-taking method is the main reason students are much more successful in this semester’s flipped class.  From past observations and student comments, many students did not take notes, or did not know how to take good notes, or simply did not watch the vodcasts.

Another difference is that students are working in groups of four in class with tables in a square arrangement.  In past iterations of the flipped class, the learning space was in rows.  This group arrangement is conducive to peer instruction. I am also encouraging them to teach each other by showing data that indicates deeper learning when students explain concepts and help each other with problem solving.  Many of my students are making a conscientious effort to teach each other.  As a result, the students have formed a learning community with me as the facilitator.  The learning community is positive because there are mature students in this class who take responsibility for their learning.

What to do with the lowest achieving student?

Students graduating in the bottom third of their high school class show no difference in achievement in a flipped class with implemented self-regulation tools.  Ironically, these students have not submitted their Cornell notes.  Even with the self-regulation tools as a requirement, positive classroom environment, and peer instruction, students with little motivation in high school are not likely to change their habits or self-efficacy in college.  Not surprising.

The flipped classroom with Cornell Notes promotes a significantly higher level of success amongst higher achievers (students graduating in the top and middle third of their high school class).  Overall, the implementation of Cornell notes and group learning space has increased the Test 1 average by 16%.  I deem this a success!!

 

 

 

Student-Centered Learning and Attention Disorders

The first test is graded.  However, the totals have not been tallied due to the addition of an “exam wrapper”.  More on this in future blogs, but Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation has great information about these reflection tools.

I would like to address several comments students have made.  Regarding using technology to deliver content:  A freshman told me that she expected college teachers to use technology in the classroom.  She used Moodle in high school and expected most college professors to use the learning management system and technology to deliver content.  This was interesting as I have not seen this expectation from high school students prior to this year.  I believe K-12 teachers are now harnessing the power of e-learning.  Great news!  However, many of my colleagues are not.

Several students told me that they really like having the “lecture” recorded.  Their main reason was the ability to have this information readily available to review.

Several students told me that the “collected and graded” notes were extremely beneficial because it forced them to take notes on the videos and actually watch them!  One repeating student indicated that he was watching them this time and preparing for class.  Bingo!

Other students have expressed that they are having difficulties in class concentrating on the problems because they need silence.  The room is not loud, but when you have 40 students in a small room, the cumulative discussion becomes loud.  Some students have attention disorders and even the smallest distractions become disorienting.  I have not seen any other flipped classroom instructor/blogger comment on this.  My students are not unique so I am sure this is not an isolated issue.  Any suggestions on how to address this will be appreciated. Please feel free to comment below.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, my flipped classroom is becoming highly functional.  It’s not an easy transition, but one I feel is necessary to increase student learning and retention.  If nothing else, the engagement in class has increased and students are not falling asleep.

 

Refining my #FlipClass

As part of my teaching position, I am evaluated by my school dean once every 3 years.  Even though I have “tenure”, we are continually observed in the classroom.  I welcome this opportunity as a way for me to get input from an outside observer.  I am very fortunate that my dean has several decades of teaching experience in both higher ed AND K-12.  He is a master teacher in mathematics and has been discussing the flipped classroom with me for several years.

His observations were aligned with my observations.  The in class activities (solving a list of problems) became more like a study hall.  Every student was working on their own even if they were grouped.  There was little conversation and this only occurred if someone didn’t get the “right” answer that was listed in the text.  I had to run around answering and guiding individual students sometimes repeating my response over and over.  The more prepared students finished quickly and either sat there or worked ahead.  The students who struggled could barely finish the assigned problems or stay on task.  The more prepared students didn’t want to spend time explaining to the struggling student nor did the struggling student want to ask them for help.

So my dean gave me an idea that he had observed another instructor do.  Each student got a number (1-4).  All number 1’s moved to meet together and work on two problems.  Each #1 student was responsible for knowing how to solve their two problems.  The numbered students returned to their original group tasked with teaching their group mates how to solve their two problems.  All students left having the information to solve all 8 problems.

I tried this today.  Students were at first resistant; giving me that look of “please don’t make me move”.  Once they were in their groups, they resorted back to doing the problems independently.  I had to stop at each group, question, and “ask” a member to explain their answer to their group members.  Then I heard it….   talking, teaching, and learning.  They asked each other to explain and heard my most quiet students explaining to others.  Everyone was on task; no phones; no straying conversations.  When the numbered groups finished their problems, I asked them to move back to their original groups.

In their original groups, each numbered student had to teach their group mates.  This also went very well as each was confident in their answers and were able to explain.  Everyone left having completed the same problems and feeling confident in their answers.

I am going to try this again.  It seems MUCH better than the “study hall” environment.  I also don’t have to run around and answer the same question 20 times. I can address one problem with four students.  I also think having a whiteboard with each group will help the students explain to their peers more easily than on paper.

The next issue is how to group students in their original group.  It was suggested that group them according to ability…. all weak together, middle together, and high together.  This seems counterintuitive to me.  I did attempt to place a low, middle, and high together last fall.  This didn’t work very well as the high performing student didn’t want to take the time to help a low achieving student and the low achieving student didn’t want to admit they didn’t know something or were not prepared.  How do you group students?

The next issue is the number of assigned “in class” problems.  Is less more?  I observed that most students do the problems to get the done rather than understanding them… rushing through them to “check off” that assignment.  Should I assign less problems so that students spend more quality time on them?  Maybe give “extra” problems for those who are motivated to do more?

I am determined to find the right balance and practices for implementing the flipped classroom.  I will not give up on this…  Just the other day a student asked me if (M1/M2) * V2 would give the same answers as M1V2/M2.  I would never have had this conversation with the student had it not been for the opportunities to talk with every student, everyday in the flipped classroom.

#Flipclass not for Every Student

Throughout my entire journey to the flipped classroom, I maintained that the most important aspect of flipping is that the instructor can reach every student in every class.  I love teaching in this environment.  Currently, I am able to help those students in the class that are struggling.  But, I have two classes of about 16 students.  In the fall semester, my class size will again be at about 50 students.

Here lies the problem:

Because my institution is open-enrollment, there are many students who lack the study skills needed to reach high achievement in college.  Many of my students graduated at the mid- to bottom-third of their high school graduating class.  Additionally, the math level of most entering the college was at or below College Algebra.  Like many learners today, my students face learning disability challenges such as ADD and ADHD.  However, placed among these students are well-prepared, self-directed learners with the foundational skills needed to be successful.

My current students are really trying hard.  Most do what I ask them to do:  view the vodcast, read, complete the Gate Check, etc.  They are taking good notes.  They are respectful and really fun to have in class.  I absolutely love this group of students.  BUT…. they aren’t “getting it”.  I bring in relevance when I can…. “why they need to know this”….real-world examples of chemistry in action in healthcare and industry.  No help.  Many still don’t know how to convert grams to moles or that molecular weight is g/mol not just grams.

Many of my students get off-task.  They have a hard time focusing on the problems for 50 minutes.  Many of them need my help to the point where they want me to sit with them for the entire 50 minutes and guide them through every step of every problem.  I can devote time to them this semester because there are only 16 students in the class.  But, I won’t be able to give each student the time they need in the Fall when there are 50 students in one class (and no TA).  When the student can’t figure out a problem on his or her own, they turn to their neighbors who show them what to do.  They write it down, but don’t comprehend what they are doing.  OR the frustrated student sits there completely off-task doing nothing.  They become disruptive and bother those around them who are getting it and trying to focus.

I think the flipped classroom is dragging down those more prepared and academically motivated students.  And, honestly, the less prepared student isn’t understanding college chemistry any better in the flipped classroom. 

There I said it.

I am going to continue to flip my general chemistry class this semester because of the small class size and the ability to work one-on-one with the students.  But, come fall, I am going back to lecture (or a modified lecture) unless my current students really insist that they like this method of learning.

Different class, Same #FlipClass story

So excited about flipping my classes this semester!  Not sure what is causing the differences, but so far the overall atmosphere in the classroom is positive. I just read Robert Talbert’s blog post “The Inverted Calculus course” this morning in The Chronicle and found his story eerily similar to mine.

The changes made from last semester have been very well accepted by students.  As I told the students, they are good students.  Now I want to make them great learners.  What is the difference?  My students are good at coming to class, asking questions, doing what they are told to do…. all attributes of a good student.  They are preparing themselves well for the in class sessions of the class.  BUT, I have found that they don’t really know how to learn and prepare for those high-stakes assessments.

Test 1 was graded and the overall median was not very good.  I had a sit down discussion with them to try to figure out how they approached their learning.  They did what I told them to do prior to every class… watch the vodcasts, pause, rewind, take good notes.  Try the Gate check and before class problems.  In class, they worked collaboratively in groups on the assigned in class problems.  All these steps were directed by me, the teacher.

Then I asked them what they did to prepare for Test 1.  Almost every student told me that they re-watched the vodcasts, looked over notes, and read the textbook.  NOT ONE SINGLE student actively reworked any of the in class problems (the problems normally assigned for homework).  In other words, the students repeated the content acquisition yet none of them worked on the problem solving.  I was astounded!  I assumed they knew to do this.

As a result, I challenged the class to work together to improve the overall class average on the next test.  If the class increased their overall test average by 10%, I would add 10 points to each student’s grade on test 2.  They responded well to this.  I am trying to get them to support and work with each other collaboratively rather than against each other.  I also hope with this “team concept” for learning, they focus less on the grade and competing and more on the learning.  

The overall class atmosphere is very conducive to learning.  I am loving the positive interactions and working with these students.  I believe they really want to learn the material, they just didn’t know how to approach preparing for a high-stakes assessment.  I hope the “team concept” helps.

#Flipclass #Reflections: Assumptions about #CollegeStudents

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.

Success factors in the #Flipclass: #Grit and #Motivation

The semester is winding down and I am becoming a bit reflective.  I will post a final “semester of flipping” reflection in the weeks to come, but thought I would reflect on this last week in terms of student grit.

The end of the the semester reveals a student’s personality.  How does a student handle stress?  How does a student deal with life weaving into schoolwork?  And most importantly, how does a student communicate (verbally and using body language) with the instructor and their peers?  This week revealed several interesting observations.

The students who have been most successful in the flipped classroom are appear more calm, communicate well, and overall have a great attitude–they are still smiling.  Those who have been less successful are skipping class, appear angry in class, and are not completing the assignments or taking shortcuts when completing them.  

What does this all mean?  Well, I have indicated in previous posts that level of motivation seems to effect success and satisfaction in the flipped classroom.  I believe that is true as those who are intrinsically motivated (self-regulated learners, learn for the sake of learning) versus extrinsically motivated (not as self-regulated and learn for a grade), are performing better.  But, there is more to this:  the Grit Factor.

Grit research is fascinating and I wish I would have come across this prior to designing my dissertation study. Grit really encompasses many theories:  self-determination theory, goal-orientation theory, learning strategy theory, etc.

Grit is simply “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, and Kelly).  “Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress.  The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that is it time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course” (p. 1087-1088).

After Thanksgiving break, I plan on asking students to view the Angela Duckworth TED talk and reflect on how they plan on to approach final exams and their upcoming semesters. Success in the flipped classroom or even college is not about intelligence.  It’s about the amount of grit in a student.