Lack of literature on flipped lecture rooms

Compiling literature on flipped/inverted classrooms for higher education isn’t easy. A lot of returns are of the “I couldn’t believe my ears!” type blog, which is fine for what it is, but not an academic study. Yet more literature, typically of the Chronicle or Educause type, tends to say flipped classrooms are great, and they lead on to MOOCs (as in the case of this recent C&EN piece), with a subsequent discussion on MOOCs, or tie in flipped classrooms with Peer Instruction, with a discussion on peer instruction. In these cases, and especially so for PI, this is the intention of the writer, so it is not a criticism. But it makes it hard to say what value flipped lectures have in their own right.

I want to think well of flipped lectures, and have piloted some myself, the concept being an extension of pre-lecture activities work that I have spent a lot of time on. While looking for methodologies to rob for a future study of my own, I had a look in the literature. The study most people seem to refer to is an article published in 2000 in the Journal of Economics Education which described the implementation of the inverted lecture. The paper is a nice one in that it describes the implementation well, with the views of students and instructors represented. But there is not much after surveying students in terms of considering effectiveness. I come from the school of thought that says if you throw oranges at students in a lecture and survey them, they will say it helped their learning, so I’m surprised that this study is referred to by evangelists in the flipped lecture area. The course site is still available, and while it looks a little dated, it does seem to align nicely with what the Ed Techs would consider good instructional design (resources, support, social area, etc).

A more recent study is that in Physics Reviews Special Topics: Physics Education Research. While it appears this is more of the pre-lecture type of activity rather than flipped lecture (ie there is still some lectures involved), the lecture room seems quite active. This study found that students who completed the pre-lecture work did better in exams than those that didn’t.

Not much else in my initial trawl. I’ll keep looking, as of course people might have done this and not called it flipped or inverting the lecture. Of course part of this is that education research takes time, and perhaps in the next few years, we will see lots of flipped lecture room literature.

 

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Variety in Chemistry Education Meeting, 2012

Variety in Chemistry Education is one of my favourite conferences which I attend annually (2010 and 2011 reports here). This year’s meeting was held along with the Physics Higher Education Conference, providing the catchy Twitter hashtag #vicephec. The meeting was opened with a keynote by Prof Martyn Poliakoff, inorganic chemist from Nottingham, but better known to 102,403 YouTube subscribers as the star of the Periodic Table of Videos series, which have been viewed over 25,243,185 times. Prof Poliakoff received the 2011 RSC Nyholm Prize—awarded every other year for Education. He spoke about the development of the videos, working with video journalist Brady Haran to create 120 videos with over 4 hours film time in a little over a month. The urgency was caused by the pending end of a financial year! After completing the periodic table, they continued to work on videos (everything from concrete to Viagra). What struck me most though from this presentation was the sense of collaboration—a world-renowned scientist sharing his knowledge with that of a skilled video journalist. Hopefully it is a collaboration that might inspire others. Prof Poliakoff’s talk—which was personal and beautifully delivered—ended with a special tribute video to Ronald Nyholm (one of the two men behind VSEPR theory), which I suspect had even the quantum physicists choking back a tear.

With the onset of presentations (15 mins) and bytes (5 mins), it became clear that the organisers had carefully thought about the programme, with clear themes emerging. The first of those is the increasing use of technology in education. These included several talks on supporting in-class learning using multi-media resources. Simon Lancaster (UEA) spoke of a trial regarding flipping the lecture, and on a similar concept, David McGarvey and Katherine Haxton (Keele) spoke about pre-lecture activities they developed for their students (See September 2012 Education in Chemistry for a full article on pre-lecture activities). Dylan Williams talked about using multi-media clips for supporting lectures, and David Read on some fantastic worked answer videos for allowing students to engage in self-assessed work (during the summer, which they liked!). Technology continued into workshops on screencasting, wikis and online practicals.

The keynote from David McGarvey (Keele), the 2011 RSC Higher Education Teaching Award winner, stayed with the technology theme. He has used a wide range of technologies to support innovations in laboratory practicals, presentation skills and most impressively, audio feedback. His work on feedback—especially interim feedback—is inspiring. We were spoiled with a preview of this talk at the Irish Variety in Chemistry meeting earlier this year, which I wrote about here. I always come away from his talks with  lots of great ideas, so well thought out, and a concern that he can’t be sleeping much if he is working on so many great innovations at once.

Another theme that arose was that of student support in terms of college experience. Transition from school to college, international students, and distance learning students all have specific issues. An example was the talk by Gita Sedghi (Liverpool) spoke about supporting international students so that they integrated and interacted fully in their new environment, with a suite of supports such as pre-arrival planning, peer mentoring and student monitoring (interviews).

Context and problem based learning continues to be popular, and the recent focus by the RSC and the HE-STEM programme has generated several new resources available to use. These included an excellent package on costing and developing a fireworks display developed by Gan Schermer (Bath), a scenario on the theme of energy by Dylan Williams (Leicester) and talk on the process of redesigning a traditional hardness of water practical to give a multi-week C/PBL scenario for first years (Karen Moss, NTU). Two workshops on this theme were on designing ill-conceived problems and on developing commercial skills for chemists.

The third keynote was given by Paul van Kampen (DCU). This excellent talk outlined his personal journey in becoming a science education researcher as well as being a scientist. It was interesting as he highlighted what aspects of being a scientist could translate into education research, as well as illustrating what was different in the two research fields—for example the inability to “control” the sample in a science education “experiment”.  Many in the audience are actively at the boundary of scientist/science educationalist and the talk was a useful marker in the considerations around designing, implementing and validating educational materials. His talk also highlighted the great advantage of co-hosting the meeting with physicists; as even though we are based in the same city, we as chemist and physicist had never previously met. The closing forum agreed the experiment of co-hosting was successful, and if #vicephec13 is half as successful as this busy, informative, and entertaining meeting, it is a must-see on next year’s calendar.

Some highlights

  • There is a kid in us all: “We made chlorine gas!” Over-excited delegate after the Microscale Chemistry workshop (delivered by Bob Worley, CLEAPSS/Brunel)
  • Useful tip: Use personal whiteboards as a low-tech version of interactive teaching (Simon Lancaster, UEA)
  • Talk that changed my mind: A trio of talks on Peerwise, including Kyle Galloway (Nottingham) whereby students developed quiz questions to help each other study. Students liked having questions specific to their course, and enjoyed writing questions.
  • Simplest idea is the best: Katherine Haxton (Keele) on getting students to do a screencast instead of an oral presentation. It is self, peer, and tutor assessed. Some excellent meta-cognitive concepts included in this well designed innovation.
  • Time saver: Stephen Ashworth (UEA) on using Excel to generate a large number of questions for online VLEs with specific feedback. CONCATENATE is my new favourite Excel function. Absolute genius.
  • Change to teaching: More interim feedback, David McGarvey’s work on using interim audio feedback illustrates what can be achieved.

The entire meeting’s tweets have been added to Storify, which includes many links and references to resources and websites mentioned. I plan to compile a list of these and add them here.

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Jennifer Burke Award

After submitting a project on the pre-lecture resource work completed for the Teaching Fellowship, I have won the Jennifer Burke Award. This award is awarded annually by the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA) for  Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

The process was quite an innovative one, and I actually got quite a lot out of it. Submission for consideration of the award cannot be more than five minutes. For mine, I made an Articulate presentation that was a model of the resources that the students see, to try and give a sense of how students would have interacted with it. The submission was required to show how the idea was innovative, how it was implemented and how it worked.

Short-listed applications were then invited to the Helix two weeks ago whereby we started off with an “innovation speed-dating” session, meeting each of the five judges in turn and explaining the concept to them. I was a little bit cynical about this, but the calibre of the judges was extremely impressive, and I found myself wishing I had spent more time preparing for it! It was a really great way for the judges to find out more about the idea, as each one had their own interest or angle that they were interested in. The judges were introduced to us at the start of the final, and included a representative from academia (at the coalface), a representative from ILTA (pedagogy-technology), representative from industry (innovation), representative from the HEA (policy) and last year’s winner (standard) – and for each of these I considered the term in brackets to be the bit I would focus on in each of the speed-date sessions. This meant that it was possible to cover a lot of information about the innovation in a short amount of time (35 minutes). I got a lot out of this session, as in discussing the idea with the judges, they prompted a lot of ideas from their perspectives that I hadn’t considered.

The speed-dating was followed by an interview with the entire panel, which focussed on the core concepts – why was the resource introduced, how did it go, what did I learn and what would I change. Again, some useful things came out of this – most importantly for dissemination that the pre-final resources might be more useful for dissemination than the finished ones, as individuals could tailor them to their own situations. This is something I plan to do now, which I never would have thought of.

The other great output was in talking to the other finalists. They had some really great, impressive innovations and all  shared a passion for considering how best to effectively use technology in our learning. I got so many ideas from just talking to them and having a look at their ideas, which I think will be summarised on Jennifer Burke website soon.

All in all, a very positive day! Many thanks go to the organisers at ILTA for what was obviously a huge amount of work behind the scenes, and the judges for giving up their time. I wholly recommend anyone considering applying for next year’s award to do so – the process is a very beneficial one in terms of personal development.

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Pre-Lecture Resources Webinar 26 Jan 2011

CHEM1306-Pre-1

I’ll be giving a webinar as part of the fantastic Sligo IT webinar series this Wednesday at lunchtime. You can register and find out more here: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1135441135. The webinar will cover some of the work I’ve done on my Teaching Fellowship on the area of pre-lecture resources. It’ll be my first webinar – I’m quite nervous about it, but looking forward to the instant interaction of the audience as I give the talk!

Abstract:

This presentation will outline the use of online pre-lecture resources to supporting in-lecture material. The design rationale is to develop a cyclical approach between online resources and lectures, so that the two are mutually dependent. The aim of the resources are to introduce students to some key ideas and terminology prior to the lecture, so that their working memory during the lecture can focus on application
and integration, rather than familiarising with new terminology. These had a short quiz associated with them which was linked to the gradebook in the VLE. Some design principles behind developing these (and any) e-learning resources will be presented, along with implementation strategy and some analysis of the effect of using these resources with my own students.

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Using Pre-Lecture Resources in your Teaching

Using Pre-Lecture Resources in your teaching

Much of my study on educational research this year has focussed on Pre-Lecture Resources, working with Dr Roisin Donnelly at DIT’s Learning Teaching and Technology Centre and my colleague Dr Claire Mc Donnell. I’ve turned into something of an evangelist for pre-lecture resources, so in order to spread the good word, I have prepared this resource guide for others thinking of using a similar strategy. I’d love to hear from anyone who has considered this approach or is using a similar approach. The guide accompanies a presentation at the 12th Annual Showcase of Learning and Teaching Innovations, DIT, Jan 2011. Click on the image to access Using Pre-Lecture Resources in your teaching”



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YouTube: Acquiring a UV/visible spectrum; choosing cells and solvents

uvvis

This video shows how to acquire a UV/vis spectrum and demonstrates the different types of cells and solvents that can be used – showing the absorbance ranges for each.

Funding from DIT and the NDLR gratefully acknowledged.

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Iodine Clock – Pre-Lab Activity

This is an Articulate interaction which incorporates video demonstrations the various aspects of the iodine clock experiment and then has a quiz towards the end. This could be used as a pre-lab activity, where students could print out their response to the quiz and bring it to the lab, or alternatively link the quiz to the VLE by SCORM. Click on the image to access the resource:

Funding from NDLR and DIT gratefully acknowledged.

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Demonstration of the iodine clock experiment

iodine clock thumbnail

This experiment demonstrates the iodine clock reaction between iodide and persulfate ions, using thiosulfate as the ‘clock’. After some introduction details, three experiments are performed: studying the effect of concentration to determine the orders of reactants (3:01), studying the effect of temperature to determine the activation energy (7:47) and studying the effect of solvent polarity (9:42).

Funding from NDLR and DIT gratefully acknowledged.

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PreLecture Resources: Literature Examples

This post provides some short annotations to literature involving prelecture resources/activities – the annotations are a brief summary rather than a commentary:

  1. Online Discussion Assignments Improve Students’ Class Preparation, Teaching of Psychology, 2010, 37(2), 204-209: Lecturer used pre-lecture discussion activities to encourage students to read text before attending class. It had no direct influence on examination results but students reported that they felt they understood the material better and that they felt more prepared for exams.
  2. Using multimedia modules to better prepare students for introductory physics lecture, Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research, 2010, 6(1), 010108: Authors introduce multimedia learning modules (MLMs) which are pre-lecture web-based resources which are awarded credit to incentivize usage. Authors mention one of the reasons as being to reduce the cognitive load in lectures. The total time required for each pre-lecture was about 15 mins, and they covered most of what was coming up in the lecture itself. the authors argue by presenting exam scores, etc, that the prelecture resources increased students’ understanding of a topic before coming to the lecture, measured by post-prelecture-but-before-lecture questions, and will present in a subsequent paper how the lecture experience changed because of the introduction of these resources. (T. Stelzer, D. T. Brookes, G. Gladding, and J. P. Mestre, Comparing the efficacy of multimedia modules with traditional textbooks for learning introductory physics content. Am. J. Phys.). The authors provide a link to examples of their prelecture resources (Flash resource).
  3. Benefits of prelecture quizzes, Teaching of Psychology, 2006, 33(2), 109 – 112: Tests the use of pre-lecture quizzes and found that students felt that lectures were more organised, felt better prepared for exams, and performed better on essay questions when compared to students who had not completed pre-lecture quizzes.
  4. Student-Centered Learning: A Comparison of Two Different Methods of Instruction, Journal of Chemical Education, 2004, 81(7), 985 – 988: Lecturer introduced pre-lecture quizzes to facilitate just in time teaching – teaching based on student misunderstandings/difficulties identified just prior to the lecture. The students took the approach seriously as they were given some credit for it. the approach was considered successful by staff and students in the programme.
  5. From the Textbook to the Lecture: Improving Prelecture Preparation in Organic Chemistry, Journal of Chemical Education, 2002, 79(4), 520 – 523: This paper describes attempts to encourage students to prepare for lectures. The authors argue that engagement with the textbook results in more active learning by students. Pre-lecture activities (“HWebs”) were to be completed by students prior to each lecture, and were based on the content of that lecture. The lecture itself remained relatively unchanged. The analysis found that student performance on HWebs correlated with their end of semester grade. While students generally liked the material, the felt that the system penalized them for being incorrect on material they had not yet been taught. Students did generally agree that use of the HWebs helped them understand the material in lectures. and the lecturers found that the nature of the lecture did gradually evolve to more explanation and discussion.
  6. Preparing the mind of the learner, University Chemistry Education, 1999, 3, 43: This paper uses examination statistics to demonstrate the effectiveness of pre-lectures, with a particular effect noted for students who did not have a strong background in chemistry. The pre-lecture is defined as an activity prior to block of lectures aimed at either stimulting the prior knnowledge that may be present but inaccessible/forgotten and/or to establish the essential background knowledge so that learning takes place on a solid foundation. The students involves were in a year 1 of 4 (Scottish) degree and included those who had to take chemistry in their first year as well as those who were pursuing a chemistry degree, and students with a low level of prior knowledge were enrolled on the module. The pre-lecture took the form of a short quiz at the start of the pre-lecture, which students marked themselves, followed by the class breaking into groups comprised of a mixture of self-designated “needing help” and “willing to help”.The remainder of the pre-lecture activity allowed for the group to work through activities. The evaluation took the form of comparing the exam results of students in this group (who had little or no chemistry) and the students in the group that did not have pre-lectures but had a good level of chemistry knowledge. The results demonstrated that there was a significant difference between these groups in the years that pe-lectures were not offered, but not in the years pre-lectures were offered. A range of confounding factors, including mathematics knowledge were examined and found not to affect the results. The results are surprising, given that the students without pre-lectures received approximately 10% more teaching time as this was the time given over to the pre-lectures for the group that had them.
  7. Preparing the mind of the learner – part 2, University Chemistry Education,2001, 5, 52: This second paper from the Centre for Science Education on this topic. Based on the evidence from the first study on the benefits of pre-lectures, this work looks at the development and implementation of “Chemorganisers”. These aimed to enable the preparation of students for their lecture course, ease the load on the working memory space and change students’ attitudes towards learning. The structure and purpose of Chemorganiser design is explained in detail, along with an example. Evaluation was carried out by comparing the exam marks between the two groups described in the previous paper. In the year Chemorganisers were instigated, this difference was insignificant.
  8. Developing Study Skills in the Context of the General Chemistry Course: The Prelecture Assignment, Journal of Chemical Education, 1985, 62(6) 509-510: This short paper reports on the inclusion of using instructional activities during a lecture course to allow students develop study habits.Students are asked to read a section of a text book prior to the lecture and are asked questions at the start of the lecture. Evaluation took the form of student survey, who said that they liked the pre-lecture assignments and that it encouraged in-class discussion.

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