Saturday, February 7, 2015

Student Feedback on the Flipped Classroom
This is the third year I've been "flipping" my honors chemistry course. Instead of classroom lectures and practice at home, we flip it: their homework is to watch a short video (and a quick mastery-based online quiz) and then we do problems in class, where I can provide more one-on-one assistance.

I feel better able to help them learn the material in this format. My role in the classroom has shifted from lecturer to coach and tutor, and their time has shifted from 90% passive to 100% active.

But don't listen to me. Here are some excerpts from a little survey my students completed for me. (Since I have recently done a bit more in-class lecturing for logistical reasons, the students had a unique opportunity to compare the two approaches.):

"The videos (and quizzes) have been very helpful for me to learn new material as well as reviewing and testing myself on material that I've recently learned."

"I really like being able to do problems and worksheets in class so we can ask questions and get help easily. I liked it better when we took more notes on online lectures instead of doing in class lectures because I'm better able to focus. Also, that gives us more time to do actual problems in class which is helpful."

"The emphasis on practising problems in class is very beneficial. Being able to practice and have the opportunity to ask questions really helps me learn. The lecture part of class is very effective as well. We never sit and take notes for too long which helps us stay engaged."

"I think you do a really good job of making sure that there are plenty of materials for us to use to study for tests. I like that our homework is on Moodle a lot because that is so much more convenient since when I don't have time to sit down and do it at home, I can just do it on my phone wherever I am."

"I find that the online videos are helpful to me. They are not very long but they are very effective in that I can replay them over and over again until I fully understand the concept at hand. Often, in class, I get confused because chemistry is not my best subject (though, I am working on changing that) and we go a bit fast."

"Though it isn't the most fun things to do, watching the videos that you put online actually helps me to remember the lessons betters, and it makes me feel as if I'm in the middle of class. The fact that there is a quiz after also helps me to make sure that I pay attention and keep focused on the video."

"I think many things have worked for me this semester. For one, I really enjoyed learning some of the material on my own time because it let me go at my own pace and it gave me the option of using other resources. I also like dong practice at school because it allows us to ask the teacher last minute questions on some of the harder questions and gives us an idea of what the test is going to be like."

Others are not so fond of the videos, though they still appreciate the extra time we have for in-class problems and practice:
"One thing that has worked for me is all the worksheets given to us for practice. That has really seemed to help me. One thing that hasn't helped as much is the videos outside of class. I often find myself searching more on the topic to give myself a comprehensive understanding."

"In the past few weeks, I've enjoyed in-class lectures. I like learning in the classroom more. However, I didn't like the video and quizzes on Moodle. It often feels like we have to sit through things we already learned just to get to the topic of the quiz."

"I don't learn as much from the video lectures as I do in class when we take notes because I have a hard time focusing during the videos. In class when you explain it, its much easier to understand."

"Doing practice problems was helpful. Your lectures teach more effectively than homework videos, though though they have their merits."

"I like how we take notes and then do a worksheet after because it helps me make sure that I understood what we just learned. I also like the homework videos on Moodle because I like being able to go back and listen to the lecture instead of just having notes. The only thing I don't like is that sometimes the homework quizzes are only testing to see if people watched the video, not testing to make sure everyone understood the concepts." 
And this last complaint rings true, but at the the same time captures the essential advantage of this model:
"Well when we are working on a problem sheet and the whole class is raising their hand to ask some questions. You run back and forth from one end of the class to the other. I think it would be helpful to have maybe a student teacher in our class to help answer some questions we usually ask."

All in all, out of 39 students responding, 10 clearly identified the online vids as helpful, 6 preferred in-class lectures, and 9 mentioned liking the massive amounts of in-class practice they get.

My take: In class, it's harder for kids, but the net result is more learning.

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