Testing ‘flipped learning’ by marrying online and face-to-face interactions
Using Learning2014 strategies: diverse resources and group work
Visit Dr Browitt's blog for updates on the progress of this project.
Dr Jeffrey Browitt, Associate Professor Paul Allatson and Dr Marivic Wyndham are encouraging students to connect to the subject Contemporary Latin(o) Americas in a new way by introducing flipped learning approaches which provide easier accessibility and increased diversity of educational resources.
What the project is about
Aware that student attendance at class was drastically declining towards the end of semester and that student feedback surveys kept highlighting problems with the tutorial dynamic, the teaching team wanted to keep their students’ interest by utilising a different approach to learning, as well as providing access to course content online.
The team introduced ‘flipped learning’ using a number of Learning2014 strategies including:
Flipped learning makes it possible for students to watch or read online lectures, subject readings and other materials before class, thus enabling a focus on high quality face-to-face interaction during class time. Examples of classroom activities include problem-solving, project-based learning and group critique.
Why the project is being introduced
Dr Browitt has found that no matter how interesting the subject material, student attendance drops to 30 per cent by Week 11. By Week 12 only 20 per cent of students are attending lectures and by Week 13 barely any students attend class at all. A probable cause of the drop off is student stress and fatigue. The teaching team is trying to address this attendance slump by making lectures and resources available online so students don’t miss out on content leading up to the exam period.
The teaching team also examined student feedback from 2010 to 2013 to look for ways to improve the subject further, especially the tutorials. One recent change was to an assignment task where a 20-minute class presentation (in which students found tiring and ‘switched off’) was transformed into a cultural case study posted on UTSOnline. This adjustment would then free up time in tutorials, allowing for more discussion and debate.
What the transformation looks like
Currently the subject’s structure has a one-hour weekly lecture followed by a two-hour tutorial, however the 13-week structure of lectures is being redesigned as follows:
In consultation with Dr Adam Morgan (IML), the case study assignment was re-designed so that students would work within a small group on a general theme, but with each case study being an individual variant of that theme. A small mark (10%) will be given for a group submission on the general theme, so students would work together and benefit from group critique of their case.
In response to students' feedback about a short test being too broad in its scope, Dr Browitt is rethinking the assessment criteria and asking students to help generate a possible, limited question bank, from which he will select questions for the test. By introducing peer-reviewed questions for the test, the teaching team can ensure that students feel their interests and ideas are taken into account, thus creating greater buy-in and removing anxiety over tests. This also builds students’ analytical skills and opens them up to generating questions collaboratively.
Challenges and considerations
The biggest hurdles for Dr Browitt and his team in introducing this project have been deciding which face-to-face classes the online lectures will replace, what the videos themselves will look like and literally how to record them so that they are attractive enough to maintain students’ interest. However the video visualisation challenge is easing as Dr Browitt is looking at other online course delivery styles and seeking advice from experts. He is also reading studies that analyse how students engage with and understand online lectures.
Dr Browitt suggests taking serious note of student feedback, with a focus on identifying patterns rather than on individual reponses only. And if you are teaching a subject with other lecturers, ensure all of your teaching styles, quality of information and supporting material are consistent, to make the transition between lecturers as smooth as possible for the students.
Dolnicar, S. (2004). What makes students attend lectures? The shift towards pragmatism in undergraduate lecture attendance. University of Wollongong.