Investigating the Effectiveness of a Partially Flipped Classroom on Conceptual Learning and Engagement

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Mala Fernando, Department of Biological Sciences

Project Team: Birgit Schwarz, research assistant

Timeframe: July 2015 to January 2017

Funding: $4,700

Course addressed: BISC 100 – Introduction to Biology

Final report: View Mala Fernando's final report (PDF)

Description: My goal as an educator is to enable students to go beyond the content of the subject and to be able to become scientific thinkers capable of applying the concepts and the facts learned in class. Over the years, I have observed that keeping students motivated and engaged in class was a challenging task not only for me, but also for many other instructors. At the end of the semester, many students remembered the facts and regurgitated them at the exams without understanding the application of the concepts. I felt that students were not learning the way I expected them to. In other words, my expectations for students are to be motivated and become more engaged in the learning process, ultimately becoming passionate for learning the subject rather than simply cramming the facts, obtaining a better grade and forgetting the application of the concepts. Therefore, the objective of this project is to transform the existing boring lecture-oriented pedagogy to a more engaging and learning-oriented experience for the students in BISC 100 Introduction to Biology by investigating: 

a) the effectiveness of partially flipping the classroom (one class session out of three) on conceptual learning and student engagement,
b) a comparison of the partially flipped classroom with previous straight lecture courses, and
c) if students will improve in addressing conceptual questions when team based approaches are taken when compared to individual attempts.

Questions addressed:

  • Is there a difference in marks on conceptual exam questions between previous course designs as compared to the flipped classroom course design?
  • What are students’ perceptions of the partially flipped classroom?
  • Do students’ scores on conceptual questions in weekly quizzes increase over the semester?
  • Does student engagement increase over the semester in the Monday flipped classroom activities.
  • Do students’ scores on conceptual questions in weekly quizzes increase over the semester?

Knowledge sharing: If positive trends are shown, I plan to broaden this project for my plant Biology course (BISC 337) and to the lab portion of the Algae and Fungi (BISC 326) course, during my study leave in Spring 2017.

Fernando, M., & Schwarz, B. (2015, November). Investigating the effectiveness of a partially flipped classroom on conceptual learning and engagement. In Strand A: Scholarly Inquiry into Teaching & Learning Practice. Presentation at the Symposium for Scholarly Teaching & Learning in Post-Secondary Education, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC.

Keywords: flipped classroom; conceptual learning; student engagement; team based; independent learning