The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Flipped Classroom Passes First Test at San Jose State

Using a flipped classroom for one of the most hated classes at San Jose State University has produced some interesting results. Midterm exam results from the course, Engineering Electronics and Circuits, were higher for students in the class, according to a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The university decided to give the flipped format a try because the class, required for electrical engineering majors, has never had a very high passing rate. In fact, 40% of the students taking it received a C or lower last semester.

Instructors turned to the massive online open course produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offered by edX, asking students in one of the three sections of the class to watch lecture videos on their own and then use classroom time for discussion, rather than spending most the the class time on live lectures. The median midterm exam scores for students in the flipped class were 10 to 11 points higher despite more difficult questions on the test, according to Khosrow Ghadiri, an adjunct professor teaching the flipped version of the course.

The final test for the flipped class will come during finals week when professors plan to give all three sections of the course the same exam. Along with final test results, the university will survey students for their views on the flipped format.

“I think, in a way, that’s more important,” said Ping Hsu, interim dean of engineering. “If students feel this is a better way to learn, then that says a lot, perhaps more than exam scores.”

While midterm test scores were higher, students have complained about the pace of the flipped course. They’ve also asked Ghadiri for more frequent quizzes.

“The flipped classroom receives a lot of resistance upfront,” said David W. Parent, undergraduate coordinator in the electrical-engineering department. “What the students didn’t say, but were effectively saying, was that they had to learn at the rate which the classroom was going rather than letting it slide and cramming at the last moment.”

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