Sunday, March 4, 2012

Student Survey Question 5b: What could be done to make the flipped classroom better?

This is "part 2" of the fifth in a series of 10 posts about a student survey I gave to my classes after four weeks of a fully flipped classroom.  Here are the trends and some responses I have chosen to share.

All survey response can be found in the following posts:

Student Survey Question 1: Describe your effort in the flipped classroom and explain

Some suggestions my students have made to improve the flipped classroom are as follows. I have put them into categories based on my thoughts.  Many students gave no suggestions and said "The flipped classroom is fine as it is".

Two of the most common suggestions were: "Make the videos shorter" and "Have more examples in the video".  Two very contradictory statements...  I feel my videos are a good length, between 8-15 minutes long.  I really try to avoid 15 minutes at all costs, but sometimes it extends to that length.  Throughout the videos, I do tell students to pause and try a problem on their own, so that gives them a small break from watching the video.  I always create an optional "Part 2" or even "Part 3" of the videos with more examples in it.  Some students watch these, but I know that more students probably should...

Suggestions I will implement now or soon, or suggestions I agree with.

  • It would be helpful if i am able to take some time during the day to get ahead of the flipped classroom so that i will completely understand as well as have one less thing to worry about finishing and completely learning it. I am really trying to emphasize this to my students; I have five computers now available in my classroom and I want them to work ahead on the videos if needed, especially if their internet or computer access at home is limited.
  • Comment 1: 1 think that we should do another way of like a summary after we watch the video. i am not a big fn of the summarys so it would be better for me as a student to do a different kind of activity for after the video. Comment 2: Create little problem and give it to your friend to solve it. I have already begun to incorporate this with a "Guided Summary" where I ask the students specific questions rather than having them come up with a question themselves.  I like the idea from Comment 2 for an alternate activity to do after they watch the video.  They could bring that problem to class and it could be the warm-up.
  • Different activities in between the flipped classroom to check up on how everyone is doing and where they are in the understanding of the concept. My goal is to keep coming up with different ways to do things so I can keep things fresh.  I am trying to write down all the things I do that work so next year I will have a much larger repertoire.  The issue that I find is that because I am trying to keep my class self-paced, a lot of the activities that I would like to do can't be done as a whole class because everyone is at a different place.  I will need to think about the specific activities/lessons and how to modify them to work.
  • What could make the flipped classroom better would be being able to interact with other groups, for example: one group can get up and walk over to another group to talk to them about what they think the answer to a question is. I love this idea and have tried to emphasize it in the last week since the survey responses came in.  I don't want students to feel like they have to stay with their "assigned" groups the whole time; they are merely there to provide some structure for students who won't take the initiative.  I want the students to feel like they can ask for help from anyone in the class at anytime.

Suggestions I still need to consider, or suggestions that have good aspects about them that I can tweak.

  • Comment 1: A quick review in class the next day would really help. For example, just solving one question together as a class or group would be nice and then you can check it as you check the homework. Comment 2: Spending time like at least 15 mins reviewing the concept, but just to make sure, ask the class if they need help to save time. Comment 3: For the concepts that are a little bit more difficult, it would be great if you could go through one example problem with the entire class as a whole, during class the following day.  My initial thoughts on this in a general basis is "no", because it ruins one of the best aspects I think there are about Flipped Classrooms - students work at their pace on what they need help with.  Not everyone needs a review of the video the night before, so I want the students to review in their groups and decide where they are at, and then ask questions based on what they individually need.  I don't want to be up front going over the lesson they just watched on video because I would be wasting a lot of students' time.  I think the heart of this question is that students might need a guided review or warm-up to work on as they get started on the day, rather than just telling them to "jump in" to the day's task list.   Some students need a little more structure and "hand-holding" than this freedom-oriented flipped classroom provides for them.  Or, I need to more consistently do the small group pull-out and reteaching for those who need it.
  • For me, i would personally like the longer and harder type of concept to be taught in class and homework at home. I disagree with this suggestion, because the longer and harder concepts are the ones that lead to more students getting lost - either they don't get what happened or they space out and drift away.  Teaching those in class is even harder to get all 40 students on the same page at the same level.  What I think will work better to answer this suggestion is that the concept is still taught on video initially, but in class the next day I can have a structured small group time of re-teaching and going over it for the 8-10 kids that need to see/hear it again from me.
  • Comment 1: I think the videos should be more entertaining. Incorporate more jokes, trivia,etc.  Comment 2:  I do not think the random facts are necessary; this is because as I have mentioned before I have other homework so I need the videos to get straight to the learning process right away.   As many comments as I get from students that want MORE jokes/trivia, etc, I get just as many who want NO MORE jokes/trivia.  I try to have a balance and throw a trivia comment in there every other video or so.  Never gonna keep everyone happy...
  • Maybe incorporate new platforms for the videos like using the whiteboard instead always being on your desk with the camera in the same angle. I don't know if you have enough time in your day to film the videos differently but it just an idea. Good idea, but this student is right about time.  The way I film my videos with my Document Camera, it doesn't not require much set up and no editing unless I make a mistake and have to use iMovie to fix it.  Maybe next year once my whole set of videos is recorded, I can make new ones or additional ones using a different "platform" like was mentioned.

Suggestions I won't consider

  • I would remove the deadlines where I would have to have the summary and question deadline due at the beginning of the class. If I remove this deadline, then students will come to class not having processed the information and will spend the first 15-20 minutes reviewing and getting their WSQ written rather than actually applying and using the concepts.  This comes from a student who wants every excuse to be lazy and not have to think outside of school. 
  • Just to write a summary...not the whole entire WSQ. The only part left is the Question, and I think that is an important part of the reflective piece.  My students really struggle with it right now. I need to think of how I can teach/show them better to think of questions after watching a video.
  • I think that students with around an A or A+ shouldnt have to do the summary. Then, people with lower grades will have to watch more videos. This suggestion doesn't make any sense to me.  Again, this comes from another student who is very smart but very lazy (even before flipped classroom) and wants any/every excuse to not have to work.

Comments that made me smile
In all honesty, your videos are amazing. Though some are a bit tedious and require more time than necessary to complete, they fully convey the required information.

I honestly cannot think of anything to make it better because it is already working as it is. Your lessons are completely understandable and clear as well as effective. 

I like the videos and flipped classroom overall as it is right now.  I do not have any suggestions to make them even better because this is one of the best methods of teaching that I have come across so far.  I like that they are available at any time and that they are organized into playlists to make videos easier to find.

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