Flipping a large Intro Bio class – round 2

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.


About jchoigt

I'm an Associate Professor in the School of Biology at Georgia Tech, and Faculty Coordinator of the Professional MS Bioinformatics degree program.
This entry was posted in Teaching and learning biology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Flipping a large Intro Bio class – round 2

  1. Donna Llewellyn says:

    Sounds like a great plan – I will be interested to hear how it goes!

  2. Pingback: Assessing the flipped classroom | Jung's Biology Blog

  3. Pingback: The fallacy of evaluating “the flipped class” | Jung's Biology Blog

  4. Pingback: Flipped case studies workshop at Buffalo, 2014 | Jung's Biology Blog

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