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Topic:  Teaching Strategy - Flipped Classroom

Effects of Using Online Technology and In-Class Problem Solving Sessions on Student Achievement

D.R. Webster, School or Civil and Environmental Engineering, and D.M. Majerich, Center for 21st Century Universities

Flipped classroom learning is still pretty new and there are a lot of unknowns about effectiveness of the teaching strategy. With so many unknowns, the role of the instructor requires someone with initiative willing to shape her or his own role.  This instructor's role is pretty new and flipped classroom learning evolves quickly.  As such, the role changes often and requires versatility and flexibility. In Fall 2013, Donald R. Webster, Associate Chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was instructor for his flipped fluid mechanics course.  Student achievement was compared between the flipped course and a traditionally taught class both taught by Don.

This quasi-experimental design study provides an empirical analysis of students use of online technologies and team problem solving sessions to shift an undergraduate fluid mechanics course from a traditional lecture format to a collaborative learning environment and the effect these changes had on student learning outcomes.  One group used online technologies and solved problems in class and the other did not. Out of class, the treatment group watched 72 short (11 minutes, average) video lectures covering course topics and example problems being solved. Three times a week students worked in teams of two to solve problems on desktop whiteboard tablets while the instructor and graduate assistants provided ``just-in-time'' tutoring. The number of team problems assigned during the semester exceeded 100. Weekly online homework was assigned to reinforce topics. The WileyPlus online system generated unique problem parameters for each student. The control group received three-50 minute weekly lectures. Data include three midterms and a final exam.

  • The five variables (grade point average, number of problem solving sessions attended, environmental engineering major, total number of college credits, gender) when taken together predict the final examination score. 
  • Regression results indicate that controlling for all of the entered variables, for every one more problem solving session the student attended, the final grade was raised by 0.327 points.  In other words, if a student participated in all 25 of the team problem solving sessions, the final grade would have been 8.2 points higher, adifference of nearly a grade.

The flipped classroom is one way to help move teachers toward better teaching but does not ensure it.  Using online technologies and teamwork appeared to result in improved achievement, but more research is needed to support these findings.

 

Topic:  Teaching Strategy - Flipped Classroom

Effects of Using Online Technologies and In-Class Problem Solving Sessions on Student Achievement

D.R. Webster, School or Civil and Environmental Engineering, and D.M. Majerich, Center for 21st Century Universities

The Georgia Tech campus is buzzing with conversation about what constitutes a flipped classroom and how much technology is too much.  A follow-on from the first study, achievement scores for a third class were examined along with the previous study by Dr. Webster and Dr. Majerich.  In this study, Dr. Webster was the instructor of record for the fluid mechanics class.  However, this time what was going to be examined was the extent that an increase of technologies would contribute to the students' course achievement.

WHAT DID WE DO?

This quasi-experimental study provides an empirical analysis of using online technologies and team problem solving sessions to shift an undergraduate fluid mechanics course from a traditional lecture format to a collaborative learning environment. Students were from three consecutive semesters of the same course taught by the same professor. Two treatment groups (Flipped, FlippedPlus) used different combinations of online technologies (Tegrity, WileyPlus, NetTexts). These students solved the same problems (100 plus) in class working in teams of two using desktop whiteboard tablets while receiving “just-in-time” tutoring provided by the instructor and graduate assistants. Out of class, the treatment groups watched 72 video lectures (11 minutes, average) covering course topics and example problems being solved. The comparison group received three-50 minute weekly in-class lectures. Data included three midterms and a final exam.

WHAT ARE THE RESULTS?

  • Results revealed that even though the students in the FlippedPlus class had an average GPA that was lowest for all groups, their average final exam score was highest for all groups followed by the Flipped class students.

WHAT DID WE LEARN?

The flipped classroom is one way to help move teachers toward better teaching but does not ensure it.  Using online technologies and teamwork appeared to result in improved achievement, additional research is needed to support these findings.

 

Topic:  Blended Learning

Use of a MOOC Platform to Blend a Linear Circuits Course for Non-Majors

B. Ferri, School of Electrical and Computing Engineering, D. Majerich, Center for 21st Century Universities, N. Parrish,  A. Ferri, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Blended learning is a mode teaching that supports in-class activities for students in an actual classroom, whereas online learning occurs entirely outside of the classroom and does not require students physical presence.  To get a better sense of what is meant by blended learning, traditionally taught brick-and-mortar courses and fully-online programs could serve each as one of the endpoints of a continum. Blended learning can fall anywhere in between the two endpoints,  depending on the mix of on campus and online learning that is used. This conceptualization of blended learning can present itself as many different enactments.

WHAT DID WE DO?

This study describes a project where a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) was developed in order to blend a Circuits and Electronics course taught to non-majors at Georgia Tech.  The MOOC platform contains videos of all the course lectures, online homework, and quizzes.  Over 400 students take this course on campus each term. Since these students were spread over eight to nine sections, consistency of coverage and of grading was a major motivation for inverting this course. The research approach uses a pretest-posttest design.  Quantitative data were obtained from nine different sections of the Circuits and Electronics course. Each section met twice a week for 50-minute periods and each section was taught by a different instructor.  The data source was a concept inventory administered at the beginning of the semester and again at the end of the semester.

WHAT ARE THE RESULTS?

Resutls suggested

  • the groups were equivalent based on the scores received on the concept inventorY
  • the blended learning method significantly enhanced the conceptual understanding of circuits topics for students within each of five sections from pretest to posttest.; the remaining sections had higher scores than the pretest but the difference from pretest-posttest was not significiant. 

WHAT DID WE LEARN?

The MOOC provided an excellent learning management system to facilitate inverting the course. All of the lectures, homework assignments, and quizzes were online as part of the MOOC. The challenge with using a MOOC platform as opposed to stand-alone resources is that the MOOC must be a complete course in itself rather than just a collection of course resources. The findings indicate that the variation from section to section was lessoned by using the MOOC to invert the lectures portion of the course

 

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