Innovative Instruction in STEM Education: The Role of Student Feedback in the Development of a Flipped Classroom

Innovative Instruction in STEM Education: The Role of Student Feedback in the Development of a Flipped Classroom

Victoria C. Coyle (University at Albany/SUNY, USA), Dianna L. Newman (University at Albany/SUNY, USA) and Kenneth A. Connor (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9680-8.ch016
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Abstract

Research from the learning sciences provides evidence that students engaged in collaborative learning in authentic activities are better able to retain and transfer knowledge to alternate contexts leading educators to reexamine the role of the lecture as a dominant instructional method. The use of alternate classroom structures to create student-centered learning environments is appropriate in STEM education. This chapter presents the development of a flipped classroom in a higher education STEM course, and describes the iterative process and subsequent structure of the course over several years. Considerations when implementing a flipped model of instruction are: the degree of self-regulation required of students, methods of assessment and the relationship between online information and authentic activities that students participate in during class. Recommendations for future research directions are discussed.
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Introduction

As Americans moved from farms to urban industrial areas in the early 20th century, they joined the manufacturing ranks, working side by side with a more experienced coworker, learning on the job. Often employees spent their entire career working for the same company. Toward the end of the 20th century, new technologies and an increasingly global economy changed manufacturing in America. The American economy experienced a shift, companies moved away from jobs that demanded physical skills, and toward jobs that involve technologies previously unheard of. Many innovative technologies require a skill set specialized to deal with sterile dust-free environments or scale too small to be seen with the naked eye. Often, workers collaborate with each other, with responsibility for only a small part of the product. With these shifts come an increase in need for an educated work force adept at problem solving, able to collaborate with partners globally, synchronously and asynchronously (Stephens, 2013; Wulf, 1998). Technology makes collaboration possible, requires that individuals be flexible, think independently, and find solutions while negotiating changing conditions (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Onchwari, 2009; Salomon, 2002; Stephens, 2013; Wulf, 1998).

In order to address the skills gap that exists between the number of technical jobs available and the number of graduates to fill them, it is imperative that we improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at all levels (Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century, 2007; U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, 2012, 2013, 2014; PCAST, 2010, 2012). To remain competitive in a global economy, American colleges and universities have been pressured to improve preparation program for students entering STEM career fields (Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century, 2007; Felder, Brent & Prince, 2011; Stephens, 2013; Wulf, 1998). In an effort to insure that we meet these and other challenges, engineering programs are moving away from traditional models of teacher-centered learning supported by a lecture format, to a student-centric model infused with active engagement, authentic activities and practical problem-solving experience (Granger et al., 2012; Spencer & Mehler, 2013; National Science Foundation, 1995). By leveraging research from the learning sciences, and the needs of industry, STEM educators are now creating collaborative learning spaces that improve student outcomes and provide opportunities for students to develop soft-skills desired by employers (Ambrose, 2013; Stephens, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collaborative Learning: A method of teaching in which students work together to solve a problem, create a project, or explore a topic together.

Cooperative Learning: A form of collaborative learning where students work together in a small group on an activity or assignment that is structured. Individuals are usually held accountable for their own work.

Flipped Classroom: Education practice that makes use of electronic resources (videos, online lectures, PowerPoint slides, podcasts, etc.) to provide concept and theory outside of class time, in order to free time spent in class for concept application and experiential learning.

Constructionism: The idea that effective learning occurs when students actively build concrete artifacts that applies to the content; stems from experiential learning.

Group/Team Learning: A form of learning where students work as a group or a team on an activity or assignment where individuals and the group as a whole are assessed on their work.

Constructivist Learning: Learning theory that refers to the idea that students construct knowledge through their own experiences.

Active Learning: A process that engages students in learning by gathering information, thinking, problem-solving, reflection, and self-assessing their personal degree of understanding.

Self-Directed Learning: Individual learners are motivated to take on decisions related to their own learning.

Student-centered Learning: Learning that is directed by students, with instructor acting as guide or facilitator.

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