Skip to main content
MenuSearch & Directory

2014 Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Symposium


An Approach to Flipping the Classroom in a Large Chemistry Course

Mike Lewis

The Effect of Cognitive Complexity on Student Metacognition

Shawn Nordell

Instructors design curriculum to enhance students' critical thinking skills. Implicit in this design is that students can identify different levels of cognitive complexity. Many instructors introduce Bloom's Taxonomy as a means of demonstrating the different forms of cognitive complexity that will be utilized in the course. However, can students transfer that learning to their classwork? Can students identify different levels of cognitive complexity? I examined whether students could identify different levels of cognitive complexity and how cognitive complexity affected students confidence in their answers. Students in an introductory biology course were presented with Bloom's Taxonomy early in the semester and provided examples relevant to the course material. Throughout the semester students answered multiple choice quiz questions on course content and then were asked to identify the cognitive complexity level of the question. Students could correctly identify knowledge/ recall questions approximately 90% of the time. However, they correctly identified application questions at a much lower rate and rarely correctly identified conceptual/ understanding questions. In a separate set of quizzes students answered multiple choice quiz questions on course content and then identified their level of confidence in their answer. Interestingly, the pattern of confidence did not vary across the different types of questions (recall, understanding, application). These results indicate that students' may not be able to easily identify different levels of cognitive complexity and therefore their ability to apply critical thinking skills could be hindered. I discuss several strategies for increasing students' ability to identify different levels of cognitive complexity.

Flipped Classroom: Implications in the Student Laboratory

Donna Duberg and Amanda Reed

Student disengagement during lecture and unpreparedness for laboratory motivated us to implement a flipped classroom model of instruction. This transformed our classroom from a teacher-centered, passive learning environment to a student-centered, active learning environment. Traditional lectures were replaced with online presentations utilizing lecture-capture software. These lectures introduced basic concepts and laboratory procedures within these clinical laboratory science areas: chemistry, immunohematology, phlebotomy, safety, and urinalysis. During class students were placed into groups and utilized information presented in the online lectures to complete case studies and problem solving assignments. Traditional modelings of procedures during laboratory were replaced with pre-laboratory instructional videos. Students were required to view these prior to attending the associated laboratory and then completed a laboratory exercise reflecting objectives stated in the online lecture and video. Statistically, there was weak to moderate positive correlation between percent of online lecture watched and laboratory or quiz performance, but not both. This spotty association indicates a need to better align all course components. A comparison of student performance on laboratory activities using the traditional lecture model versus the flipped classroom model was performed using SAS 9.3 and a Pooled or Satterthwaite independent samples T-test showed no statistical improvement. In fact, student scores on one laboratory activity significantly decreased. A student survey indicated the majority of students liked the flipped classroom model and perceived it to be useful. We plan to continue using the flipped classroom model however refinement and standardization of all components is needed to clarify student expectations and reduce student confusion.

Graduate Student Learning and Reflections on Race in the Classroom

Dannielle Joy Davis, Laura Robinson, Wendell Jones, Yongsun Lim, and Brian Long

Post-secondary institutions continue to struggle with providing curricular diversity in terms of race that promotes cross-race understanding. Such cross-race understanding serves as an important component in educating students to effectively work within a global economy and community. Via auto-ethnography, this work explores student and faculty experiences in difficult dialogue related to race at the graduate level. Through analysis of focused reflective journaling, questions this work seeks to provide insight to include: In what ways might personal histories inform understanding and engagement with race based material? What classroom practices prompt comfort with engaging in race based dialogue? Participants and coauthors of this work include 5 graduate students enrolled in the race related course "Student Development Theory II," and myself as the faculty member. Findings suggest the key role personal histories and genuine prior cross-race interactions have upon student engagement with race related course material. Implications of this work include the importance of higher education in creating safe spaces for students to cross racial boundaries, that in turn enhances their understanding of the topic within the classroom. The work concludes with suggestions for both administrative and pedagogical practice in post-secondary settings.

The Influence of Video Review and iPad Apps to Enhance Visual Analysis of Movement of the Lower Extremity

Chris Sebelski and Ann Hayes

To assess if the utilization of the iPad mini and the ""Ubersense"" app during visual analysis of movement made a difference in a student's

  1. perception of confidence performing visual analysis of movement.
  2. accuracy in performing the skill.

An IRB was submitted and approval received. Twenty-two subjects, between the ages of 18 - 25 years, were recruited from a sample of convenience of students enrolled in the Kinesiology II course in the Program in Physical Therapy at Saint Louis University. The experimental group consisted of nine students with access to iPad minis and thirteen students were in the control group. Both groups participated in all of the Kinesiology II labs during the semester, practicing visual analysis of movement to interpret functional human movement activities by watching looped videos of individuals performing movements on a large screen in a lab. During the last lab of the course, all students completed a pre-survey rating their perception of confidence in performing various parts of visual analysis of movement. For the last lab session, the students in the control group visually analyzed a functional human movement as they had done in all the previous labs, and completed a common worksheet. For the last lab session, the experimental group was isolated from the control group and allowed to use an iPad mini to access the same movement video that was being viewed by the control group. Through the use of the ""Ubersense"" app, the students in the experimental group had access to start/stop and slow motion capabilities that the control group did not, and could self-select when to use them. The students in the experimental group responded to the same common worksheet. At completion of the laboratory session, all students completed a post survey rating their perception of confidence in performing various parts of visual analysis of movement.

There was a change in self-efficacy in both groups. The experimental group perceived an advantage in their clinical effectiveness in visual analysis of movement, by the availability of technology.

The second objective of the study was unable to be assessed due to discrepancies in the interpretation of the directions given during the lab session, the incompleteness of the worksheets themselves, and the clarity of the answers given by the students.
Several pedagogical issues were identified which led to a post-hoc objective to assess pedagogy throughout the physical therapy curriculum on visual analysis of movement. The goal of this assessment is to improve the presentation of this material in future courses, and perhaps improve the accuracy by students in the identification of movement faults through visual analysis of movement.

Insights from Introductory Biology Students' Conceptual Models of the Gene-to-Phenotype Relationship

Ranya Taqieddin and Elena Bray Speth

One of the core concepts of biology is the flow of genetic information; students should become fluent with the structural and functional definition of genes, and how they determine phenotypes. Articulating the genotype-to-phenotype (GtP) relationship is challenging for introductory biology students, as it requires biological language appropriation and integration of concepts and mechanisms at multiple levels of biological organization.

In a large introductory biology course at a private research university, students iteratively constructed box-and-arrow conceptual models representing their understanding of how genetic variation arises and how genes determine phenotypes, in a variety of contexts. Student-generated GtP models were used to investigate students' reasoning. We analyzed in depth patterns of change in GtP models produced by one cohort of students (n=97) over the course of one semester. Change was measured as differences in: (1) the biological accuracy of individual propositions within students' models; (2) relative frequency and accuracy of propositions that represent either structural or functional /mechanistic relationships, and (3) models' ability to represent flow of genetic information from genes to phenotype.
We found that students entered the course with a baseline understanding of structural relationships (i.e., "genes are composed of nucleotides"). Students' ability to incorporate accurate functional connections within GtP models (i.e., DNA is transcribed into mRNA) significantly improved early in the semester, and was maintained throughout. Incorporating allele and mutation, and making explicit the protein-to-phenotype connection proved to be particularly challenging for learners.
In-depth understanding of how students' GtP models progress over time reveals learners' challenges and will enable instructors to specifically target learners' needs.

Introductory Biology Students' Gene-to-Phenotype Models Reveal Difficulties Articulating Information Flow within the Central Dogma of Molecular Genetics

Adam Reinagel and Elena Bray Speth

The mechanism by which genes determine phenotype is complex and presents a considerable challenge for learners, for it requires understanding how information contained in molecules determines physical characteristics of organisms. Information flow is one of the core concepts of biology and is fundamental for biology students to master. A model-based strategy for teaching and learning about the gene-to-phenotype (GtP) relationship is one promising option. In an introductory biology course that included molecular and cell biology and genetics, students were iteratively asked to construct conceptual models that explain how genotype determines phenotype for a variety of scenarios in which mutation introduced variation in a given population.

We identified four key processes - mutation, transcription, translation, and phenotype expression- as essential to convey a complete account of information flow within GtP models. We investigated introductory biology students' ability to (a) represent the four key processes within their models, and (b) to incorporate each process in a way that accurately conveys GtP information flow. Analysis of GtP models produced by students in 4 consecutive iterations of the course revealed that students consistently incorporated transcription and translation in their models with high frequency and in an apparently appropriate way, while frequency and accuracy of the processes of mutation and phenotype expression were consistently lower. Our data indicate that, over the course of one semester, students improved their ability to appropriately connect mutation and phenotype expression within their models.

We further investigated whether facility for accurately incorporating the concepts of transcription and translation was due to students simply memorizing these words without grasping their mechanistic meaning. Thus, in the last course iteration, students were asked to articulate the gene-to-mRNA and mRNA-to-protein relationships without using the root words transcription and translation. Analysis of this data will reveal students' mechanistic thinking of the central dogma of molecular genetics.

More than Flipping the Classroom: A Theory-Driven Approach to Redistributing the Cognitive Load

Elena Bray Speth, Laurie Russell, and Jennifer Momsen

The flipped classroom, in which students learn material before class on their own and then apply concepts and solve problems during class time, is becoming an increasingly popular learner-centered instructional strategy. However, few specific guidelines are available to inform instructional design in a flipped classroom.
We are interested in developing a theoretical framework to guide distribution of content and activities in ways that enable students to learn actively and effectively both in class and at home.

Based on literature on cognitive load and on learning about systems, we articulated a theory-driven approach to design a flipped introductory biology course. Our design is informed by the Structure-Behavior-Function framework, previously described and adapted to develop model-based pedagogy for introductory biology. Guided by this theoretical framework, we distributed learning activities, shifting the least cognitively challenging aspects of biological systems out of the classroom. Students learned about structural components of biological systems and acquired vocabulary and definitions prior to class, through pre-recorded lectures, readings, and homework assignments. In class, students worked on problems and activities uncovering the more cognitively challenging mechanisms underlying biological systems' functions.

We piloted the SBF-guided flipped classroom design in a large-enrollment first-semester introductory biology course at a private research university. We will describe how theory guided our implementation of a flipped classroom design and we will outline an instructional unit (on cell structure and function) as a representative exemplar of this instructional design. We hypothesize that distributing learning about structural and mechanistic/functional aspects of biological systems with this flipped classroom design will reduce the cognitive load students experience in class, which in turn will facilitate student engagement and learning.

Promoting Student Engagement with Short-Duration Repeated Assessment: Structure, Function, and Choice

Brett Emo

Student engagement with online material is a challenge for faculty who produce online content. The investment in time is made with the expectation that students will use their out-of-class understanding in discussion, apply knowledge to a problem, or recall that information in a comprehensive assessment.

I conducted my experiment in Spring semester of 2013 in PUBH 201, Introduction to Global Health, with a class of predominantly sophomore Public Health majors. As a means of assessing student learning I created "Quick Assessments" (QA) as fast, low impact repeatable mini-quizzes to follow online video content.

The QA consisted of ten multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions which the student was given 5 minutes to complete. Each student could take the quiz as many times as he/she deemed necessary. Each question drew randomly from a pool of two to four questions and the order of questions was randomized on each attempt. Subsequent to completion of each QA attempt students were given their score and their answers to the questions, but were not provided the correct answers.
Aggregate data will be presented regarding the number of attempts by QA, number of attempts across all QA for individual (de-identified) students, and student perceptions of what constitutes an acceptable score (terminal attempt).

The QA seems to have served its purpose well. The students engaged with the material longer than they would have otherwise. The students had control over their scores and were given the opportunity to improve by identifying and filling gaps in their knowledge and understanding. Finally, the few student comments I collected regarding the use of QA were generally positive and confirmed that the QA afforded the students an additional opportunity to learn.

After a brief hiatus in which I returned to in-class quizzing I will be utilizing the QA assessments in the coming semester, FS 2014.

Student Engagement and Learning Outcomes in a Flipped Introductory Biology Course

Laurie Russell and Elena Bray Speth

The flipped classroom is a learning environment where students arrive to class prepared to engage in interactive problems and activities. Students process content on their own at home, prior to class, and practice applying concepts individually and collaboratively, through instructor-guided activities, during class time. This model is rapidly gaining popularity at the K-12 and college levels, but evidence of efficacy and specific guidelines for instructional design remain scarce.

We designed and piloted a flipped instructional design in a large-enrollment first-semester introductory biology course for science majors at a large private research university. Instructional design was informed by cognitive load theory and by theory and evidence about learning about complex systems. The course was divided into five large sections of about 130 students each. One section implemented the flipped classroom intervention in addition to a model-based pedagogy (flipped, model-based); two sections implemented the intervention but not the model-based pedagogy (flipped), and two sections implemented a traditional, didactic pedagogy (non-flipped).

For all five course sections, we collected evidence of (a) student learning outcomes (measured as performance on identical multiple-choice questions on the final exam), (b) changes in student approaches to learning and studying biology (ASSIST survey, completed at the beginning and end of the semester), and (c) student engagement in the classroom (self-reported end-of-term survey data). Preliminary analysis of our data in aggregate revealed that students in the flipped course sections were highly engaged in the classroom and performed at least as well as students in the non-flipped sections on the final exam.

Students' Perceptions of Psychology as a Science: Predicting Initial Beliefs and the Impact of General Psychology

Kristin Kiddoo and Janet Kuebli, Mitch Lorenz

When students are asked to describe a ‘scientist,' the most frequent responses include those associated with biology and chemistry (e.g., lab coats, beakers, elements and chemicals). What defines a discipline as a ‘science,' however, is whether the scientific method is rigorously followed when conducting research in order to gain knowledge about a particular topic. "Psychology occupies a unique position as a discipline, addressing basic questions of meaning and value normally associated with the humanities but approaching the study of thought and behavior from the methodological perspective of the natural sciences" (Friedrich, 1996). As one of the most popular undergraduate majors in the United States (including at Saint Louis University), gaining a better understanding of students' views of psychology as a discipline would offer insight that could be beneficial to the field, the instructors, and ultimately the students. This information could help to inform how all parties disseminate information about the field of psychology to the general public. Any time something tragic happens (e.g., school shootings), the conversation quickly turns to the potential mental health issues that the perpetrator was experiencing at the time. After the initial outpouring of comments like "we need to do more for mentally unstable members of our society," the conversation often seems to turn to anecdotal statements rather than the empirical findings of psychological research conducted using the scientific method. Increasing the awareness that psychology is indeed a science has the potential to help to shift the focus of the public and lead to positive change (e.g., increased funding for psychological research) that could ultimately benefit our society as a whole. The majority of college students complete a General Psychology course. Every introductory psychology text includes a section about research methods and includes a statement about how the field utilizes the scientific method, but "....little attention is paid to assessing whether students believe in what is being taught" (Friedrich, 1996). In order to gain more knowledge about students' perceptions about psychology, Friedrich (1996) created the Psychology as a Science (PAS) survey. This preliminary research will report the findings of the results of the PAS in General Psychology students at SLU. It was predicted that students' scores on the PAS would increase from the beginning of the semester to the end. Several individual differences measures were also collected in order to allow the researchers to examine the relationship between scores on the PAS and traits such as need for cognition, regulatory focus, curiosity, and deep or shallow approach to learning. Results will be discussed.

Undergraduate Interprofessional Education Students Perspectives' about Caring Responses and Decision-Making Skills related to Patient-Centered Care

Verna Hendricks-Ferguson and Darina Sargeant

Interprofessional education (IPE) is a collaborative approach to develop future health care professional students as interprofessional (IP) team members. For health care professionals to deliver ethical and empathetic patient care as a team, it is essential that students develop an understanding of: patient-centered care and caring-response principles and also the scope of practice of other IP health care providers. Some of the essential patient-centered care characteristics include: respect of patients' values, preferences and needs; integration of cultural competency and health literacy; self-management skills; physical and emotional support; health care access and continuity of care delivery; and use of caring responses. Additionally, the concept of interprofessionality entails processes and determinants that influence IP education initiatives and factors associated with IP practice collaboration. Hence, this study was aimed at evaluating undergraduate IPE students' perspectives about health care professionals' use of caring responses and decision-making skills.

The theoretical framework for this study was guided by key tenets from several recognized IP education theories recommended student education and collaborative patient-centered practice, such as interprofessionality and interprofessional collaboration.

A descriptive qualitative design was used to analyze undergraduate students' reflection assignments. Data was retrieved from students' reflection assignments that were collected over two semesters during their enrollment to an IPE course at Saint Louis University. The reflection assignments were designed to capture students' perspectives about: (a) caring response attributes used during communication with patients, family members, and health care providers; (b) future use of acquired decision-making skills, and (c) future use of acquired interprofessional communication skills. Preparation of the reflection assignments for analysis included: removal of personal identifiers, random-number assignment, and documentation of students' health profession. The students' reflection assignments were randomly selected using a stratified sampling plan to ensure proportionate representation of each of the undergraduate students' health care health professions.

A total of 42 assignments were selected from 275 IPE undergraduate students enrolled in the IPE 420 course during 2011 and 2012. Seven health care professions are represented in the reviewed students' reflection responses, resulting in 15 to 25% proportionate representation of each of the health care professions. We conducted Krippendorff's Semantic Content Analysis procedures to analyze the selected students' reflection responses. We identified exemplar quotes from each of the health care professions to represent the following 4 theme categories: 1) Perception of Caring Responses, 2) Perception of Decision-Making Skills, 3) Future Skills in Caring Responses, and 4) Future Skills in Decision-Making Skills.

The findings from this study provide preliminary evidence to support the tenet that through IP education that our students developed an understanding of (1) patient-centered care, (2) the value of interprofessional collaboration in decision-making, (3) the contributions of all health care professions, and (4) professional responsibility to convey caring responses with future patients and their families.

Using Reading Quizzes to Encourage Reading

Mike May

Most teachers agree that classes would be more effective if students came to class prepared, having read the daily assignment and prepared for discussion. This study looks at online reading quizzes as a way to encourage this behavior. In one section of a freshman math class for business students, 5% of the grade was earned through reading quizzes administered using WeBWorK, and open source, online system used by the department for automated homework. Each day the students had a single multiple select question over the assigned reading that was due before the start of class. Students were given immediate feedback if there answer was correct or not and could resubmit if they submitted an incorrect answer. In another section of the course, reading quizzes were not used. On the student evaluations at the end of the semester the students were asked how often they read the book. A significant change of behavior was observed between the two sections.