Piloted Course Offerings With Flipped Lessons Consistently Yield Better Outcomes
Having seen increasing data supporting the effectiveness of flipped teaching and learning techniques throughout 2012 and 2013, The Provost and CIO* at The College of Westchester sought to trial the flipped classroom in a structured pilot. Over the course of 2014, flipped instruction techniques were utilized in 2 sections of 3 different courses at The College of Westchester, in an effort to assess this increasingly popular instructional methodology. The techniques were applied limitedly – the expectation was that 30% to 50% of the course material would be delivered using flipped teaching and learning methods.
Results were assessed both qualitatively and quantitatively. A survey tool was used for qualitative assessment, and students responded positively, with 85% indicating that they liked the approach and 76% indicating that the approach helped them learn better.
Final grades were used for qualitative assessment, and a positive finding in this regard was that instances of “DFW Grades” (grades of D, F, or Withdrawal) occurred an average of 14.5% less often in the flipped courses than they did in same-shift offerings of these courses during the prior two-year period.
The Academic Approach
The instructors who were selected to participate in the pilot were required to define and document their approach to using flipped instruction techniques in selected courses. Some chose to flip roughly every other week’s content, while others flipped specific lessons, flipped part of one lesson each week. A variety of digital learning materials (videos, podcasts, docs, web-based tools) were to be consumed outside of class, coupled with in-class exercises, projects, collaborative group work and work on assigned labs, individually and in groups. This was a purposeful change to using class time for more active learning pursuits.
Dr. Christopher Nwosisi shared some of his motivations for trying flipped teaching in a Cisco Networking Basics course, noting that “some weaker students have difficulties understanding concepts and cannot follow the lesson as they should and instructors have less time in class for coaching”. Under the partially flipped model, the lesson plans for every other week were changed to incorporate the use of videos and an audio lecture to deliver content, coupled with required participation on a Discussion Forum as a means to help ensure student engagement in the content. With the learning content delivered outside of class, class time could then be devoted to letting students complete the labs that are vital to developing an applied understanding of the course content. Students worked on the lab work in groups, independently, and/or with the instructor, at different times, and according to their preferences and needs.
In another flipped course, Adult Development in the Workplace, learning activities outside of class included a mix of readings, videos, and engaging interactives like the “Longevity Game” (on online game-style tool that estimates how long you will live) or an Interactive Longevity Map. Instructor Alexa Ferreira noted that this approach encouraged and furthered the use of multiple teaching modalities and gave students numerous chances to succeed.
A full report on the pilot is available here.
*Full Disclosure: The owner/author of this website is the CIO at The College of Westchester, and a teacher who participated in this pilot.