Flipped Classroom – 2/5/12

The results are in and analyzed from my first unit of study using the approach of the flipped classroom. Before the results though, a little background is probably necessary. As I mentioned in a previous post, I teach three chemistry classes; two general level and one advanced level. The advanced level class is the class that I am flipping, while the two general level classes are being taught in a more traditional nature. The size of the classes vary in size as well; first and third period are smaller classes of 17 and 18 respectively, while my second period is a very full 32 students.

During the first week of class I administered the same pre-test examination to all three of the classes. The results were low as expected with average class scores of 34.6%, 36.7%, and 44.3%. After computing a weighted average of the two general chemistry classes, I found the average general score to be a 36.0%. When compared to the advanced level class (the class selected for flipping), I found their to be an average difference of 8.29% in favor of the advanced students.

It is important to note at this point, that the results of the first unit can possibly be attributed to a number of different factors. As far as a scientific study, this one likely comes up lacking due to the number of variables in the experimentation. Some of the controls for the comparison were the material covered, the approximate length of time spent on the unit, and the teacher. Amongst the variables the most important was the delivery technique (flipped vs. traditional approach), but others were present as well and include: some of the assignments given, a different test administered, the depth of concepts covered (advanced in more depth), and the number of topics.

With that being said, I still feel that an unofficial analysis of the flipping technique can be made. The unit 1 test was administered a week and a half ago with some subtle differences. Chief among the differences was the increase emphasis on mastery of math techniques that needed to be had by the advanced group. In my opinion, the advanced test was a more difficult test. The Unit 1 test yielded the following averages:

  • 1st – General Chemistry (n=17): 77.4%
  • 2nd – General Chemistry (n=32): 78.77%
    • Weighted Average of General Chemistry (n=49): 78.25%
  • 3rd – Advanced Chemistry (n=18): 85.7% 

There was a difference of 7.45% between the Unit 1 test for advanced and the weighted general average. I had decided ahead of time that in order for the flipped classroom to be considered a success, the comparable average would have to be the same or better than the difference from the pre-test. By that analysis, the flipped classroom would be considered failing, if only by a slight margin. However, if you look at the two classes of comparable size, first and third periods, the difference in test average is 8.3% which is almost exactly the same as the 8.29% expected difference from the pre-test. By that analysis, the flipped classroom is at the very least doing no harm, but at best is an effective approach.

Testing is only a small fragment of the big picture though. Because the great majority of “homework” time is spent watching and learning the recorded notes, I have much more time for in-depth questioning and practicing of concepts in class and this has yielded very interesting results as well. There are far fewer missed assignments and incomplete assignments in my advanced class and as a result, every student has a passing grade. In fact, the lowest grade that I have in my flipped class is an 82%. By this measure, the flipped classroom idea would have to be considered a success.

At this point I am not ready to fully accept any of the results that I have found early on. I look forward to continuing the approach into the more difficult material of the school year and seeing how the results develop throughout the semester. Stay tuned for more analysis down the road.

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