The impact of the flipped classroom on learning and problem solving of ninth grade biology students
Wright, Lynda N.
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The students in my biology classes, like most students in today's world, struggle with problem solving skills and learning difficult biological concepts such as cell biology and genetics. Their prior educational learning experience has been teacher centered with lectures and note taking, then memorizing facts from their notes to pass a test. More classroom time is needed for application, group activities, and development of problem solving abilities. The problem with achieving that is the lack of time in a 53 minute class period to teach concepts and then apply those concepts to problem solving. This project investigates the effects of changing the traditional method of lecture and note taking during class to using online instructional resources at home for homework. This will free up class time for more question and answer time, application, group activities and collaboration as well as problem solving exercises. This approach has been termed the 'flipped' classroom method. The students were assigned weekly online resources such as animations and video lectures for homework along with associated written work. During class time, the students were engaged in various activities where they applied what they hopefully learned the night before. Time was allotted for question and answer sessions, clarification, and when needed individual help from me. Data collection during this project included pre and post treatment student surveys, pre and post treatment unit tests, student self-evaluations following activities. In addition, the students completed post treatment anonymous written feedback. Six students were interviewed both before and after the treatment was implemented. The pre and post treatment formal unit assessments showed significant gains over all in learning and problem solving. However, that is to be expected with or without the flipped classroom because the concepts covered during the project were new to the students. The pre test scores were very low due to lack of prior knowledge and the post test scores were higher after the students were exposed to the concepts for six weeks each unit. The resulting qualitative data suggested that the flipped classroom approach improved student attitude significantly even though their attitudes were already good and also improved student engagement during class. Students appreciated having more time to ask questions and more time with me if needed. They also appreciated the collaborative group projects and felt they learned more with the help of their peers. Even though the data showed the students had a slight preference for the traditional classroom because that is what they have always had, they overwhelming preferred a combination of the two teaching methods. After the project was completed, many students asked if I would continue giving them internet resources because it helped them learn so much better.