This past semester I tried a new approach to the way that I teach chemistry, the flipped classroom. It is an idea that I was excited, but also skeptical about from the start. At the semester change, when I started with an entirely new group of students I made the decision to throw myself completely into the idea with one of my three chemistry classes. I selected a small class (19 students) of advanced level students to pilot the idea. From my standpoint, the class was success, but more than that it changed the way that approached each day. Through the delivery of lecture at home, I was able to provide my students with a repeatable source of information about the topic. By freeing up time in the classroom, students were able to master the math concepts of chemistry and discuss topics in greater depth.
Below is a graph of the test grades of my flipped class versus the traditional approach that I used in my other two sections. A couple of points to remember when looking at this graph are: that all of my classes are composed of a mix of general and gifted learners, my flipped class was taught as an “advanced level” course which means that they learned at a quicker pace and learned more material in-depth, that my flipped class was a small group (19) in comparison with the two combined sections of the traditional approach (50), and that my flipped class had a different, more difficult test than my traditional classes. With that being said, here is the data.
On the whole, I am very pleased with the results that I have had from this study. Next year I plan on using the flipped approach with 3 sections of general chemistry. I am not sure what to expect, but there are some changes that I will make in order to improve the process and increase accountability. I did not have much of an issue getting students to watch my video lessons this semester due to the naturally high motivation levels of advanced learners. In fact, for the 65 lessons that I created this semester I received 14,060 views! I understand that all of those are not by my students, but judging by the conversations and questions that we have had in class, the vast majority of students watched every video.
Here are my plans for improving the approach next year:
- Post all lessons for a unit at the beginning of each unit with a specific date to be viewed by
- this semester I was writing and posting the lessons either the day before or the day that my students were required to view it
- Embed all lessons as videos into my class website
- this way, students will not have navigate in and out of different sites to view their homework
- Include a small assessment (2-3 questions) with each lesson
- provides student accountability
- Use Remind101 to schedule reminders
- send scheduled text message reminders to students to watch the videos
- encourage parents to also register to receive the texts.
I could speak about the effectiveness of the flipped classroom all day, but whether or not I find the approach worthwhile is secondary to how students view it. With that in mind, I conducted an anonymous survey of my students earlier this week to elicit true opinions of the flipped classroom. Their thoughts can be found here:
Some of the highlights of the survey that jump out to me are:
74% enjoyed the approach (15 of my 19 students submitted responses)
67% claimed to have learned better with the flipped classroom
86% took active notes and formulated questions to ask in class while watching the videos at home