I am well into the second month of flipping my microbiology class. The first exam did not go well and I had to make some adjustments to my approach (see this post) We had our second exam this week and I am much happier with the results. Here are the things that I think worked well:
1) Course schedule- I often make the rookie mistake of trying to cover too much material in too short of an amount of time. Bearing this in mind, I removed a chapter from this unit and focused instead on slowly working through the material making sure that my students have the opportunity to truly understand it rather than just memorizing it. Covering less material gives me the freedom to work in more active learning activities and spend more time reviewing concepts before the exam.
2) Learning outcomes- There is so much that I want to share with my students, but a single semester is simply not enough time to make my students experts in microbiology. I have to remind myself that expert is not my goal. They don’t need to know the intricate details of genetic recombination, they DO need to understand what recombination is and how it relates to the ability of a microorganism to develop virulence or antibiotic resistance. Using some recently acquired knowledge on course design (see this post), I spent a substantial amount of time reworking my “study guide”. Instead of a detailed list of questions that my students often find overwhelming, I made a list of clearly achievable learning outcomes, keeping in mind the overall goal of preparing my students for careers in healthcare. I used these learning outcomes to guide my lectures and assignments. I certainly need to continue working on this approach, but I think it is already making a difference in the way that I teach and the students seemed to receive it well.
3) Online quizzes- No matter how hard I try, some students just aren’t going to look at the material before they come to class. By requiring quizzes after each online lecture I am forcing them to pick up their textbooks or at least watch the videos carefully. It is simply a tool in my toolbox that helps keep my students from getting distracted by their other course/obligations until right before the test day. It also helps my students to be more prepared for in class activities making them go more smoothly.
All in all, I am feeling better about this flipping thing, but I do have to say that I am finding the work completely overwhelming. I am barely keep up with this class in addition to my other traditional course and my various faculty responsibilities. I just have to keep reminding myself to eat the elephant one bite at a time.