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Reading Reflections

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The research problem I want to address is whether a video based flipped classroom model, where content knowledge is delivered outside of the class, and class time is dedicated to student-centered activities results in better, similar, or worse gains in perceived student knowledge as a ‘traditional’ lecture based course where content delivery happens during class time. As more and more video material comes out, whether through iBioSeminars or more MOOC-style content, it is important to determine several questions 1) when is delivery of this material most effective for student learning 2) what types of material are most effective for student learning 3) is this material simply replacing a textbook, or can it be used as a lecture substitute (or neither), etc.  While most agree that video will have a place in higher education in some form, the evidence for how, why, and what is still being collected, especially in regards to a flipped classroom model.

While reading the article by Randy Bass, his description of the inverted pyramid really resonated with me. First it identified a possible problem with my problem - it is too broad. I could focus on the “what works”, or do students ‘learn’ better from video versus lecture versus a textbook?  What about when a outside the class video is coupled with an in class activity that engages, elaborates, addresses misconceptions etc.?  Or I could focus instead on the “what” or the type of content that one can deliver with video versus other methods of content delivery.  For example, you can have different perspectives from different teachers through video, or there can be animations or demonstrations that might not be possible via other methods.  

Another thought I had after reading Randy Bass, in particular when he discusses the inverted pyramid model, but also when he focuses on students previous knowledge and misconceptions, was that another way to refine my problem is to focus on big picture learning objectives in biology, as taken from Vision and Change.  So the question about different content delivery/classroom techniques can be focused around whether the students can understand the five (or just one of the) core competencies at the end of class by varying lecture based versus video/activity based material.

I think my biggest concern is drilling down on a series of questions to start trying to address through this study.  After this reading, I realize that my topic is too broad, and I should instead think more about finely tuning what “what works” and “what” I want to examine in the classroom.  I also am looking forward to learning methods for collecting data effectively, and I thought the Classroom Action Research article was a very practical reference to return to as I start to design a research study.  Lastly, I really enjoyed hearing about the authors (or contributors to the authors) stories about their motivations to enter into the world of the scholarship of teaching and learning, the processes they went through to study students learning and understanding, and also the lessons they learned from experimenting in the classroom.

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