Tag Archives: self-determination theory

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.

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.

#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.

#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.