Is this a flipped class?

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Quote from: polly_mer on January 30, 2013,  8:48:11 am

Quote from: frogfactory on January 30, 2013,  4:13:13 am

I'm sure I'm old fashioned, but I mourn the demise of the lecture, and the fact that overscheduled (?disorganised) undergrads apparently can't be trusted to take responsibility for their learning outside set class periods.

Have you ever taken a physics or engineering class at the college level?  If not, then your opinions on what works in that classroom are completely irrelevant.

Have you ever become proficient at physics or engineering at the college level?  If not, then you really have no clue what is required to become proficient.

I was scolded recently on The Venting Thread for pooh-poohing the idea of an unwelcoming environment for women and minorities in physics and engineering.  You know what research on the learning of physics and engineering has shown works well for everyone, but particularly people who have weak backgrounds in the things required to do well in intro physics and engineering?  Doing group work in class and being forced to engage with the material and asking questions where help is readily available is the single biggest way to help those underprepared students.  Doing that well does require a ton of work by the professor and helpers, but what GW is doing (from all accounts I've read) is properly implemented if the students would stop waiting for a lecture and engage with the material. 

Lecture on these particular topics is the least effective form of teaching for these particular topics based on the research done on physics education by physicists with help from social scientists who know how to set up the studies on people.

Be sure to be dismissive of yet another thing in which you have zero experience or clue.  That really adds to your credibility.

No, but I do know this is being trialed in biology too, and I find that quite problematic.

This is an excerpt from my favorite comment to the article:

"Some students at GW have certain sincere beliefs about teaching and learning that actually prevent them from learning well. "

And here is an excerpt from my evaluations comments of last semester:

"I was so used to lecture classes, where the teacher tells you everything you need to know, and then you learn it and know what you need for the quizzes and exams.  My ---- class was different from any class I had taken before.  It wasn't about knowing what my teacher wanted as much as it was about understanding the content for myself."

It is an upper-level course and that student is in their second year.  I hope the class will not remain different from the others they take in the future.  I'm not leading what I consider an inverted classroom. I'm asking students to read, then providing a combination of lecture, discussion, and problem-solving activities in class.  But even this mild approach is a change for students.  Most thrive, and most enjoy it--but those are different things.  And it has not been entirely positive for me; most of my faculty observers have been enthusiastic, but one of my faculty observers did not like it and said so in his review of my teaching.  The GW article and comments reflect the range of reactions to change.  I'm glad to see that they are making the shift within an entire program rather than on an instructor-by-instructor basis.

See, what bothers me is not the absense of interactive teaching methods.  I won't argue that tutorials, symposia, Socratic sessions, labs etc aren't useful.  What I do disagree with is the absence of straight lecture, and the idea coming through that covering exam material is the main point.  No.  To master a subject, you need to learn more than you *need* to know.  You need exposure to more than what might be on the exam to build a real schema for the subject.  You need to be reading more tan the recommended texts, and your exposure to experts in the topic ought to be worth more than them shepherding you through tasks at your own level.  

Case in point - my undergrad boyfriend was genuinely eidetic (had an eidetic memory? Not sure of the tight form).  He could sit in an exam and literally look through the textbook in his head.  We revised (studied) together for a week before finals, and he showed he really could read off pages of Ganong (super dry, super good human physiology textbook) from the insides of his eyelids.  He did amazingly in first year exams.  But he was lazy, and didn't bother with reading more to actually get a rounded understanding.  Or, really, pay any attention in the second half of any lecture, which tended to be on the lecturer's own primary data on the topic at hand.  I found this extremely useful in fitting together what the information at hand really meant, despite the fact that nothing of that 50% chunk of lecture would ever see its way to exam.  Thus, second year, when box ticking and basic recollection were less valued than actually understanding how sh!t works, he tanked, and I excelled.  Which, in my opinion, is how it should be.

A degree is not just training in a subject (although, from my US experience I'd have to say it's often not even trainng in a subject over there); it's training on how the world fits together.  I don't see how omitting lecture - especially lecture that is notably in advance of the degree of understanding required for qualification in a given area - can lead to snything more than dumbing down.

Edit: lots of iPad typos in there; sorry.

Froggie, it sounds to me like you're fetishizing the lecture. The most rigorous, mentally challenging classes I have taken (in multiple countries and at multiple levels) have been seminar classes.  There's nothing inherent about the lecture format that exposes students to the big picture nor about other formats that neglect it.

Quote from: frogfactory on January 30, 2013,  4:50:58 am

I just don't understand how an hour of straight lecture can possibly be less useful than an interactive activity that is mainly things students should be doing anyway. a degree.

I feel old for saying this, but you just had to be in a good study group to do well in a physics class, back when I was in school.  I also remember, though, that science study groups were pretty self-selective, and my peers tended to turn away people they didn't perceive to be competent--who tended to be women and people of color (w/ the exception of Asian students), back then.

What is being done at GW seems to replicate study groups--plus the benefit of faculty supervision.  I think this format would be effective in that it will function to give equal access to good study groups.  Still, I am not sure if it should replace the lecture portion of the course because "facts" are very important in these courses, and peer discovery might not be the most effective way to obtain facts in hard sciences.  Yes, it can work, but it probably won't be as effective.

Quote from: wet_blanket on January 30, 2013, 10:29:15 am

The most rigorous, mentally challenging classes I have taken (in multiple countries and at multiple levels) have been seminar classes.  There's nothing inherent about the lecture format that exposes students to the big picture nor about other formats that neglect it.

I was trained in both social and hard sciences, and here is my view on this.  While that is true in my current field (in the social sciences) and perhaps in advanced courses in hard sciences, I don't necessarily agree with this notion in the intro-level hard science courses.  Exchanging ideas with peers is great, of course, but, that needs to be built upon a firm foundation...which, in hard sciences, lectures can be quite effective in establishing.  Unlike in the social sciences, where reading textbooks alone could be sufficient in establishing solid foundations, I don't believe students typically learn as effectively merely by reading books...


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