Comparing the Effects of Online Vs. In-Class Pre-Reading Quizzes on Student Performance While Piloting a Highly Structured Flipped-Classroom Approach to Teaching BISC 102

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipientKevin Lam, Department of Biological Sciences

Project team: Erin Barley and Joan Sharp, Department of Biological Sciences, and Laura Hilton, research assistant

Timeframe: September 2013 to June 2014

Funding: $10,000

Course addressed: BISC 102 – General Biology

Poster presentation: View a poster (PDF) describing this project from the 2012 Symposium on Teaching and Learning

Description: In the Spring semester of 2013, Joan piloted two flipped-classroom sections of BISC 102.  The class of 217 students was split into two groups, with both groups attending the same labs and tutorials, and writing similar midterm exams and the same lab and final exams.  Both groups were expected to pre-read for each week’s lectures and write an online pre-reading quiz.  One group attended lectures that were more traditional lecturer-focused presentations of material. This section did include an active learning component, with clicker questions and clicker case-studies that increased student engagement and allowed the instructors to assess student participation and understanding.  The second group attended lectures that employed more active learning strategies, including group discussions, worksheets (done in-class and at home), problem sets, and also clicker questions and case studies.  Joan designed and taught both sets of lectures and two lab sections, and Kevin gave feedback and ideas for lectures, observed student participation during lectures, and taught the remaining 4 lab sections.  Kevin also wrote and administered a detailed student survey at the end of the semester, which 197 students completed.  

In the Spring 2014, Kevin will pilot two new flipped-classroom sections of BISC 102.  Kevin will be designing and teaching the lectures and 2 lab sections, and Erin will be teaching the remaining labs and consulting on the lectures.  During Fall 2013, Laura and Kevin will develop new teaching materials and data collection/analysis methods in preparation for Spring, 2014. Nearly all the structured teaching approaches need to be developed or redeveloped into a cohesive package that centers around a new set of active student learning objectives (SLOs).  During Spring 2014, Kevin will teach BISC 102 and Laura will be gathering and analyzing data throughout the term so that teaching methods and materials can be quickly adjusted in response to this data..

Questions addressed:

  • Does switching from online multiple-choice pre-reading quizzes to in-class multiple-choice pre-reading quizzes result in improved student performance in BISC 102?  In particular, does it increase student performance on exam questions that require higher order thinking skills?
  • How much time does it take to develop each component of this structured teaching approach?
  • How many hours a week does it take to teach this highly structured approach, once all of the materials have been developed?
  • How do the bloomed (i.e. Bloom’s taxonomy) exam results of BISC 102 students who have undergone this highly structured approach compare with bloomed exam results of BISC 102 students who did not experience this approach? 
  • What are the perceived values and challenges of this highly structured approach, from the perspectives of students, instructors, and teaching assistants?

Knowledge sharing: Results and recommendations from this project will be shared with colleagues through BISC departmental meetings, TA-TM day, and/or a special departmental seminar arranged specifically for this purpose.  The teaching materials themselves will also be shared with any other lecturer or instructor who teaches BISC 102 thereafter.  Results will be submitted to the SABER (Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research) conference in Minnesota.  Results and recommendations from this project will also be shared at BCBIO (a teaching-centered conference between BC post-secondary institutions) and other educational conferences. 

Lam, K., & Hilton, L. (2014, May). Flipping a first-year biology course: Experiments conducted and lessons learned. Poster session presented at the Symposium on Teaching and Learning: Provocative Pedagogy, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.  

Lam, K., & Hilton, L. (2014, March). Experimenting with flipped classroom approaches: Comparing in-class and online pre-reading quizzes, using parallel lecture sections. Poster session presented at the Biology Leadership Conference, Amelia Island, FL.

Keywords: flipped classroom, lab, lecture