This semester, my 2nd year students and I have agreed to ‘flip the teaching’. In other words, instead of me giving a lecture and then the students working on tasks until our next class, they have all week to watch the video, prepare their materials and then during class we go into more depth about their tasks (individual research, scenario-based learning etc.).
Although the students have only been involved in this project for 2 weeks, it seems to be okay so far. It may be partly due to having students who have had me teach a similar course last year and so are already aware of the expectations. I would like to think that it’s also partly due to the incredible amount of time I spent making the materials in the first place which (I hope) are engaging the students effectively.
Not one to rest on my laurels, though, I’m keen to ensure my students get the most from this ‘flipped teaching’ experience and I want to dig deeper, finding out how they are engaging with the materials.
Robert Talbert (Mathematics Department, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan) is clearly doing something similar with his 1st year undergraduate calculus class. Like me, he is keeping a blog about what he (and presumably his students) are learning. His latest blog (The biggest lesson from the flipped classroom may not be about math) makes an interesting point about the difficulties his students are having so far. It’s time and task management, not the course content, which seems to be the biggest issue.
Prof Talbert writes, “The brain is an excellent tool for processing information but a terrible one for storing information. A fair point if my memory is anything to go by. He continues, “In their [the students’] minds, it’s not one project but half a dozen disconnected tasks.” Now this interests me. Do my students see their tasks on our Moodle site as disconnected or interconnected? Does their perception impact the way they complete the tasks? Does it change the way they understand the underlying concepts behind the tasks?
I’ll ask them during my next class (or perhaps they’ll read this blog and answer me here). You never know … Either way, I think a bit of input won’t go amiss.