Lecture Less in Large Enrollment Classes

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Title of Abstract: Lecture Less in Large Enrollment Classes

Name of Author: Hartmut Doebel
Author Company or Institution: GWU
Author Title: Assistant Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: General Biology
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: Learning Assistants Flipped Classroom Team Work Reflective Writing Broken Case Studies

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: My goals are to create a learner-centered classroom; develop critical thinking skills; to foster team work; to make learning exciting.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: I used clickers and clicker quizzes to check up on homework assignments and on-line quizzes. While students work in teams to solve problems, they are always required to quietly solve the problem (answer the question) first on their own, before they consult with their team mates. This approach does not vary much, whether I use broken case studies or a set of smaller problems to be solved. Outside of the classroom, students work on a team wiki to be updated weekly (with strict guide-lines). Trained undergraduate learning assistants are of invaluable help in many of the above aspects.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: I always use pre- and post-tests as well as surveys to gather data for summative and formative assessments. An end-of-semester interview-style focus group provides additional information (administered by colleagues and/or teaching assistants

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Overall, students prefer the flipped-classroom approach over the traditional lecture. They feel more engaged and actively involved; and they learn how to communicate more efficiently. Most of my department is supportive of my efforts, some colleagues are more reserved than others. My provost fully supports my efforts and likes to see more learner-centered classrooms.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: While students are more engaged in a flipped classroom environment, many push back as they expect me to teach them more. They have a hard time seeing how important my 'diminished' role is, because they have to do all the work. In consequence, student evaluations are significantly lower compared to when I delivered traditional lectures. Last but not least, student assessment is not easy; during exams, often the classroom atmosphere cannot be easily recreated whether or not students, during exam time, answer short essay questions, or even their own questions. I have started working on the issue of assessment with past students, whom I surely considered to be A-students, but did not quite make it to the top during exams.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: I (with my colleague, Rob Donaldson) have given a paper at the most recent Lilly Conference in Washington DC, which will also be published in its proceedings. More papers are planned in the near future.

Acknowledgements: I like to thank my four undergraduate learning assistants (Jay Choi, Kirsten Hartwick, Laura Kaye, Magdalena Stuehrmann), who have assistant me during the last 3 semesters and without whom I would not have been able to flip a classes with 200 to 300 students. And I like to acknowledge my department chair, Diana Lipscomb, and my colleague, Rob Donaldson who have given me support, encouragement, and feedback.