Stephanie Butler Velegol – flipped course: “Introduciotn to environmental engineering”


I flipped my entire course: the students
watched 22 hours of videotape lectures. Typically this course would contain about
33 hours of lectures if I were teaching live. My recommendation is to flip the part of
the course that doesn’t change; if there are parts of the course, the content that
change, I would not flip that, but there’s something in engineering that never change:
there are theories and concepts that I can record and
they won’t change year to year, so that allows students to watch those things and
I don’t have to change it every year! I think this is a very important question,
because if you’re going to flip the classroom, then you really need to use that class time in a
way that is valuable to the students. My recommendation is to make it as
active and engaging as possible: for me that meant about two-thirds of the time we
use for problem-solving; that’s a big part of what engineering students do at the university, and so that allows them to really deepen their understanding, because they’re working
on problems in groups, I’m there to help them, and that’s where a lot of their learning really takes place. It allows me, as the instructor, to get them right when they are stuck and help
them get on with those umps. Other things I did during class time is that I took them
to my field trips: because of the nature of course,
environmental engineering, we were able to tour some things on campus that directly applied to what I was
teaching them in the videos, in the content. I also had guest speakers, and we also did
some brainstorming sessions. So the bottom line is once you open up the
class time I think you can do all the things you always wanted to do, as a teacher.
And that’s what I’ve found out I was able to do. Another very important question: how do
you know that students are watching the video? My recommendation here, what I did, was
they were required to do online assessment before they came to
class. It was a low-state quiz, maybe worth about 10% of our grade total, and
it asked fairly basic questions about materials that they had observed in the video, and they
could open that quiz while they’re watching the video. So, they can be interacting
with both the quiz and the video at the same time. I would even recommend you to intersperse the questions
within the video, which is my next step when I flip again, so that the students
are actually getting that immediate feedback crosscheck for understanding. You
could also use things like “clickers” in the classroom…anything that really serves
as a “gate check” to make sure that they are watching the video and getting that
content online. I created short five to fifteen minute videos and I
created a number of them every week, that encompassed a whole large module: so we had
a weekly module, made up of short five to fifteen minute videos. The way that I did
it was: I had my notes in a Word form, that I changed to pdf, and they were outline notes
that I filled in using a tablet screen, so the students could write along with me. In
addition, for my videos you could see a picture of at the bottom right. That’s something
that people can decide whether they like that or not. Especially for a purely online
course, which I remember I was doing both, I think that’s very advantageous as soon as he just didn’t
get to see you and see how you interact with them, but not required. In my case, I needed help creating the videos
and I worked with some technical staff and actually the videos that I created were also
used for online summer courses, so I was able to a kind of double deep, if you say,
in that way. I did not actually use any other technical staff, but it would be very
advantageous to use instructional designers, instructional technologists or
other faculty, who might ensure the videos you are creating are in fact exactly what the
students need. Anytime you introduce something new, students
at first can be a little bit nervous, and at
first my students were nervous about what this would mean for them. I remember
one student after the first class, when I explained what a flipped classroom was,
he came up at the end of the class and he said: “I don’t like this.
I think that you are trying to…we’re gonna have to teach ourselves”, that’s what he said, “We’re gonna have to
teach ourselves”. And I said: “That’s actually the opposite: I will be here more to help you teach, to
help you learn, excuse me, and you won’t have to teach yourself, because when you go home and work on
homework, that’s when you have to teach yourself”. So that’s what I told him and
by the end of the semester he believed me. But let me tell you a thing that is very
important to get buying from students: you need to explain to them that you’re on
their side and that this flipped classroom will help them in their understanding. And
you need to be fair to the students: you don’t want to use this as a chance to
push more material at them or make them work more than they think they are really
working. I think that’s really important and they’ll
see that you’re really up for their best and their
reaction should be generally positive. There are still about 1/4 of the
students who don’t really feel comfortable with the flipped environment because
they’re not used to it. And that’s ok with me, because the 3/4 who do like it really preferred it over any other type of classroom. About five years ago, I was teaching a large
engineering classroom. I had about 80 or 90 students in
the class and I would teach traditionally: I was lecturing
on the board, the students would listen and dutifully take notes, then I wanted to assign a homework assignment,
that was due on Fridays. On Thursday evenings I would have office hours where the students could
come and talk to me about their questions and get other questions answered, and it was
during one of his office hours that I decided to flip my class. You see, during
these office hour we had about 5 or 6 students sitting
around the table, and they were asking really
good questions about the homework: these were conceptual questions, but they are
questions that I had already answered in the lecture, but during the lecture they were taking notes
but they weren’t really understanding the material. And then, after I addressed
some of their questions new students came in, they asked the same question that I had
just asked, so instead of answering them again, I asked the students who were in the room to explain to the new students what
I had told them, and then they were teaching each other, and now I really saw even a deeper
understanding of the material, as they had to teach their peers about what they had learned. And that
kind of interaction is what I wanted to see in the classroom. But there was a
challenge, which was: how do I cover the technical material and still engage students
in the classroom? And that’s where the idea of this flipped classroom came in the play.
I had some online videos and I thought: “what if the students watch those videos and then
they can use that material in the classroom to deepen their understanding?” That’s why I decided
to flip. I had three main expectations: the one is that the classroom would be more
loud and engaging, and that is exactly what I see: when I look my students lose
with a brainstorming question or I give them a quicker question or when I ask them
to work on a homework together I see engagement, I hear noise, I see them interacting with
each other. That’s what I
wanted to see. The second expectation that I had was that the students would come to
class prepared, and I did mostly see that, because I had checked that the students were
watching the video and coming to class prepared. Of course it’s not always perfect
and sometimes they’re not as engaged as I would like them to be. And the last expectation
that I had was that students would perform better under some of their assessment, and in fact my research
has shown that they performed exactly the same. So, although I did not see changes
in their summative assessment, I did see changes in their engagement and even
in classroom climate. I think the biggest challenge for flipping
a classroom is creating the online content. The content,
because it is reused and it’s difficult to change,
you want it to be done right, and I felt that I had to make it much more
organized than I normally would have in a live lecture. So I think that takes
a lot of thought to think about how you may create an online content. My
suggestion would be that you actually do live lecture one semester with the notes
that you’ve created, get a little bit of feedback from the students before you
create the video. I think it’s important to try it out first: that’s what I would
recommend. I think the most difficult thing for me to
manage was what to do during that class time. Specifically, how much time to spend
reviewing the material. So, when my students watch the video online, they take
an online quiz and, as part of that, I ask them to write a question that they
have about the video content; before class, I look at all those questions and
I actually write a lot of them down, copy and paste without the names, so that
students can know what questions their classmates had, and I spend time answering
these questions, and I struggle sometimes knowing how much to review and how much
time to give them to work on the problems. If I don’t review enough, the students
feel frustrated because they don’t completely understand the material, but if
I review too much, the students feel cheated out of the class how they could be interactive.
So I think that’s something that each instructor needs to decide. I would recommend
about 10 minutes of review, but I know that sometimes
I go all over that, and so I would really recommend sticking with that. At the time that I started flipping my classroom
there was not much evidence on flipping the classroom, in terms of student
learning. But there was a lot of evidence showing that active learning helps students learn
the material and so really flipping just allowed me to
increase my active learning in the classroom, the active learning of the students. So really it wasn’t so much that there was research-based evidence for flipping, but
more research-based evidence for active learning. My observation was that
students were not engaged during the lecture time: students were passively
taking notes and when I would ask them or probe them to see if they have
learned I found they did not learn during that time very well, very
surface learning and what I wanted to see was a deeper learning taking place in the
classroom. I also know when it came to office hours that
they had not retained the information during the lecture and that’s why I wanted to improve all what’s
happening during the class time. In engineering there’s a lot of research showing
that active learning benefits students. That was what I was trying to replicate, so
that problem solving in groups, problem solving with instructor feedback,
just-in-time learning… all of those things have been thoroughly researched. That’s
what I was trying to do in the classroom, but flipping allowed me to make
sure the technical material was covered. I was trained to flip by trial and error:
I tried many things and it did not work out and I can provide some literature
based on that. I actually think in this case it is very important
to explain to your students why you decide to flip your classroom. When I first started teaching about 15 years
ago, I was told not to defend my teaching styles to my students and I still agree
with that, but in this case I, on the very first day when they come in, I show
them some slides about why I think flipping is the best thing for them. I
also show them student feedback because I have been flipping for a number of years now, I have
students that have written things about why they prefer flipping and I show that the
students. I also show them how they can best perfom in a flipped classroom and
most of that comes from recommendations from other students. So, in this case, I
think it’s very important that you explain why you have decided to take a
flipped approach to a classroom. We found that 3/4 of the students would prefer
to take a flipped classroom given the same instructor; there are three main reasons
they said for deciding that they would prefer a flipped classroom. The first one
is flexibility in learning: they like to be in control of how they learned,
when they watched the video content, how often, whether they rewatched it; they like
that flexibility in learning. The second thing they said, which is related
to flexibility, is that they really, really enjoyed being able to rewatch the
videos: if they fell asleep, they weren’t paying
attention. They could realize it: when you’re reading a book, you
can go back a few pages and catch yourself up. You can’t do it in a live lecture: they really
like that. The third thing is that they say that they
really like the interaction with the faculty and the students in the class time: especially in a large engineering
classroom they don’t always get that interaction. They felt more comfortable
asking questions privately to an instructor rather than in front of a large classroom of 80 or
90 students. Those are the three things that students preferred: flexibility in
learning, rewatching the videos and being able to interact with students and
faculty in the classroom. In my course it makes sense to flip the
part of the course that has technical content that does not change. So if there are
concepts, problem-solving techniques, equations that have not changed, I think
that’s best done in a video online content. For other things like
discussions, brainstorming, actual problem solving with the students that are
doing the problem-solving, I think that’s best done in the classroom. What I’ve found in the end was that students
preferred the flipped classroom when it was done right and that
it improved the classroom climate. So I would definitely have some recommendations
that you all can look at and if you want to flip your classroom so you don’t make some of the mistakes I made. In this video I want to show you some tips
and tricks for flipping a classroom. To do this I wanna use an acronym
called NEWS, N-E-W-S, and the goal of this is to engage students during the class
time and avoid students’ rebellion. The N in NEWS
is “No additional workload”: I recommend you do not use flipping to add more to the students’
schedule. Second I recomment the E, as for “Experiential Learning in the classroom”.
Make sure that the students are actively engaged and are having good learning experiences in
the classroom. Thirdly “Weekly assessments”, both summative
and formative, and short video segments.
Let me give you a little more detail on this, also if you want to find out more: I show
a link here for a paper that we wrote that shows the research evidence for these
four items. The first one is “No additional workload”: make sure that your flipped classroom
is a true flip, don’t use this as an opportunity to add even more.
So, when I first started flipping I had homework
and then we had class assignments: don’t do that. Use the homework in class, so you don’t add
more to their already busy schedule. Second experiential learning: in my case I used the class time
time for engage problem-solving as you can see on the left, or, on the right, field trips: you can
see them here engaging the community, see what’s happening around them, applying what they’ve learned in a new way.
That could be during discussion, brain storming, bringing guest speakers, make
sure they are engaged in the topic. Weekly assessments, to keep students on track:
one of the downfalls of the flipped classroom could be that students don’t keep up with the material,
they’re not coming to class to get the material, they’re
doing it at home. So, in my case, the students
would watch all the videos of the week before coming to class on Monday morning.
At home they would be watching the videos and taking the online assessments as
shown here. But this is key to have a formative gate-check
before coming to class. This could be questions interspersed within
a video content, or, in my case, an online quiz they take before
coming to class. It’s due actually midnight, the night before the class. I would say this
should be low state, not worth very much, but worth enough that the students
complete it. In my case I also use this for the students to ask questions:I gather all
those questions before class, and then try to address as many questions as possible during class
time. In addition, I recommend that you use for some video weekly or biweekly assessments.
So, this where the students really show you what they’ve learned, and this can be high states: my quizzes were
worth 50% of their final grade, we also accumulated in the final exam, that was another 20%, and so
students know that even if they don’t watch the video they’ve got to watch it before
this big summative quiz or test that they have. I recommend you to do it at least weekly or
biweekly, so that students don’t fall behind. The S in NEWS is “Short video segments”. So,
in my case this shows all the models that we had in one week that were lasting about two hours, but
each individual video was about five to ten minutes, and you can see here there was
one that went over 14-18 minutes. I would try to avoid that, but if you have to
finish a complete thought that’s ok, but the goal should be to keep your videos between
about 5 and 10 minutes each. So those are my tips and tricks: no additional
workload, experiential learning during class time, weekly assessments and short video segments. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *