After reviewing results and student responses to my first iteration of flipping my large Intro Biological Principles class last fall, I made a few revisions for this go-round.
The #1 student complaint from last fall was that watching the 30+ minutes long lecture videos before class took additional time. My own observations were that too many students came to class unprepared, and that watching the videos on-line could not be any more engaging than listening to a live lecture. On the other hand, other students really liked the flexibility of the lecture videos.
I also think I made a strategic mistake in making too much of a big deal out of flipping the class, as a wholly new experiment, and that I would not lecture. It added to a sense of melodrama and fueled complaints from some students that I was depriving them of live lectures.
So I made a few changes.
1. Scaffolding with an un-textbook: I would provide students with the essential concepts distilled to a web page, with links to additional material. I hope that students will see this as a service, and that if they can largely substitute the web page for the textbook reading, they will feel like this new format saves them some time.
2. No more 30+ minutes long lecture videos. Some concepts outlined on the un-textbook web page have embedded lecture videos, split into 5-6 min segments explaining just that one key concept. The maximum length of the videos is about 11 minutes, but most range 5-6 minutes.
3. Flipping with stealth: I am not making any announcement about flipping the class. Instead, I am taking the approach that this is a normal, standard way to teach. Perhaps some students won’t even notice that I’m not lecturing.
4. Explaining the intent of each part of the class. I begin with clicker questions largely based on the assigned reading (web page), calling it “retrieval practice,” explaining that studies have shown that the very attempt to remember something helps learning. I tell them that I examined their performance on the on-line homework (Mastering Biology), and that the day’s in-class activities will help them with the concepts that they found most challenging. I also show them where they could have found the information to answer the most difficult homework questions.
5. Adjusting some in-class activities to better suit students. Again, based on student reaction and performance from the first time, I revised some of the activities to better suit the time available and the level of student understanding.
That’s my 5-point plan.