Teaching Fellowship 2013

My work on enabling students to prepare for lectures has gathered some momentum again this year with the awarding of a Teaching Fellowship for a project involving second year students.

Most work to date has involved Year 1 students, focussing on introducing core concepts in advance of a lecture. These pre-lecture activities are probably best described in an Education in Chemistry article previously published.

This new project extends the concept to second years, and expands on the amount of information presented in advance of the lecture. The idea is that by providing much of the “content delivery” of lecture in advance, the lecture hour can be devoted to more in-depth discussion, problem solving, etc. As well as development of the material, a formal evaluation will be conducted, as outlined below. The project aims to evaluate the impact of the “inverted lecture” or “flipped lecture”, for which there is currently very scant literature.

There’s a lot to consider in implementing this study. I ran a pilot last year to identify what issues came up in the implementation phase. Some positive observations came through; students liked having control of the learning materials and engaging with them at their own pace. There was a good level of in-class activity. Giving students gapped notes or something to complete while watching the pre-lecture activities helped them focus on extracting relevant information and organising this information from the pre-lecture videos, rather than passive viewing. On the downside, administration problems last year meant that many students weren’t registered in Week 1(or indeed several weeks in) so material had to be simultaneously loaded on an open access platform. As well as hassle, this meant I couldn’t monitor access statistics. This year, the module is delayed until mid-semester. While I could gauge the “buzz” in a lecture last year as students were working through problems, I had no real idea of how each student was progressing until the mid-semester test. This year, I am hoping clickers or after lecture quizzes will highlight problems as we go from week to week.

The evaluation element aims to study student’s cognitive engagement in the lecture. They will be “interrupted” as they work through a problem and asked four short questions which are drawn from another study, which validated this instrument as a measure of cognitive engagement (more details on the instrument itself will be in a future post). I wish to show that as the students are working through their in-lecture tasks, having watched pre-lecture videos, that they are cognitively engaged with the material and task at hand. This information will be coupled with access data to the resources, quiz scores, and student interviews to build up a profile of how the flipped lecture works for middle stage undergraduate students. I also wish to develop a “How To” pack for lecturers considering implementing a similar strategy in their own teaching (assuming the study shows it is worthwhile).

Wish me luck!