Action Research Trailer video
Summary of project-based conclusions
I set out to improve my students’ motivation, engagement and achievement in Physics. After two cycles of implementation of a flip class model, I found that the flip class caused a small decline in my students’ motivation and engagement, but an overall improvement in their self-reported comprehension of the material and in their quiz and cumulative exam scores.
My students’ self-reported motivation and engagement improved between cycles 1 and 2. I attribute this to a modification that I made to my implementation, wherein I allowed more time in class for group discussion. Generally, I led a brief review of the last class’s content, offered suggestions based on the quiz results, took questions concerning the video lecture students watched for homework and briefly introduced the new topics for the day. By incorporating this time for me to address the students in class, I implemented a less rigid flipped classroom model.
In spite of the improvement between cycles 1 and 2, my findings regarding student motivation and engagement seem to contradict the reported outcomes of Baker (as cited in Strayer, 2007) and Lage, Platt and Treglia (2000), both of whom documented increased student participation and engagement in the flip class. I am not overly discouraged by this discovery, however. Following my modifications in cycle 2, my students self-reported only very small declines in motivation to complete homework assignments and engagement during class. Furthermore, these data must be taken in context. As Baker’s and Lage, Platt and Treglia’s students did, my students also reported spending more time working collaboratively in the flip class; thus, to a certain extent they did experience an increase in engagement during my implementation of the flip class model. My students also spent more time using their highly interactive textbook in the flip class than they had previously. Finally, my own observations indicated that students on both ends of the academic achievement spectrum benefitted in the flip class: weaker students felt more comfortable asking questions, and stronger students felt more challenged by having access to more difficult problem sets in class.
Of course, my students’ improved academic achievement in the flip class—both self-reported and observed—offered a powerful endorsement of the flip model. It seemed that the combination of having online lecture content and time to complete problems and concept questions in class improved their comprehension of the material, and their self-confidence in Physics.
My findings following cycle 2 strongly indicated that, in spite of students’ self-reported feelings of motivation and engagement, the flipped classroom model improved their comprehension and performance in Physics. For this reason, I do intend to continue to implement a flipped classroom model, but to a lesser degree than I did during this Action Research project. In my classroom henceforth, I plan to use lecture videos to introduce students to the fundamentals of new topics, but to use in-class lectures or presentations to review more challenging ideas and problems. This adjustment is a response to students’ comments that they sometimes felt “left on their own” to learn more difficult material during the in-class assignments. Although I will go back to using more class time for lecture/presentation (as I did pre-implementation), I do not plan to revert entirely to a traditional classroom model; I have seen the value of using class time for students to work on labs and problems more collaboratively and with access to their instructor as a resource.
This strategy will be especially beneficial to me in the upcoming school year. I have learned that I will teach AP Biology. In the 2012-13 academic year, the College Board will administer a revised curriculum for this course—one which emphasizes science literacy, reading comprehension, experimental design and scientific practice over routine memorization of facts. These changes mean that my future AP students must learn to work more independently than they have in years past, and that in-class strategies that prioritize student-led activities will have greater value. I can think of no better way to guarantee time for such activities (in a traditionally very fast-paced course) than to introduce students to new content using homework videos, and then to allow them class time to complete more rigorous and challenging assignments.