Advance Preparation or Active Learning: What Makes the Difference in a Flipped Classroom of International Students?

Grant recipient: Joan Sharp, Biological Sciences

Project team: Michael Silvergieter and Sharla Stolhandske, Fraser International College, Alia Arslanova and Ana Vargas, research assistants

Timeframe: April 2017 to October 2018

Funding: $6000

Course addressed: BISC 100 - Introduction to Biology

Description: A typical ‘flipped classroom’ involves two simultaneous changes in course delivery: advance preparation by students and an increase in active learning activities in the classroom. With this grant, my co-participants and I plan to investigate the separate effects of advance preparation and active learning that are typically combined in a ‘flipped classroom’. Sharla Stolhandske and Mike Silvergieter have taught separate sections of Introduction to Biology BISC 100 for Fraser International College for many years. Mike teaches in a fully flipped classroom with active learning and required videos for advance preparation, while Sharla teaches primarily by lectures. Both are prepared to modify student preparation and classroom activities over a number of semesters and to test the separate and combined effects of advance preparation and active learning with the use of concept inventories and identical exam questions. We will also carry out focus groups and, based on focus group discussions, structure a survey to assess students’ perception of their engagement in the course, their interest in the subject matter, their motivation to engage with course content with the three delivery methods.

Questions addressed:

  • How does the in-class time spent on active learning compare between Michael and Sharla’s classes?
  • Do student scores on a concept inventory increase with advance preparation or with both advance preparation and increased active learning?
  • Does student performance on higher order exam questions increase with advance preparation or with both advance preparation and increased active learning?
  • How do student perceptions of their learning, enjoyment, and motivation change in classrooms with lecture delivery and assigned readings, with lecture delivery combined with advance preparation in the form of required videos, or with both advance preparation and increased active learning?
  • What is the relationship between English-language fluency and views of classroom experience in classrooms with advance preparation or with both advance preparation and increased active learning?

Dissemination: These findings could be presented at TLC events, at TLC sponsored conferences at SFU, and in departmental seminars. We would also like to present a seminar on our findings at Fraser International College.

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