Flipped and blended classrooms blend technology-based content delivery with classroom-based activities and assignments.1 However, classroom activities are only beneficial if students commit to regularly watching lectures outside of school. Many teachers assess engagement with video lectures by inspecting students’ notes at the start of class.2 However, notetaking doesn’t necessarily prove the comprehension of the material. I propose that it is more meaningful to check student understanding of the content, then simply for the competition of the video watching assignment.
In a flipped class, students will ideally come to class with a basic understanding of the content that will be further explored during class. Disengaged notetaking serves little purpose in this type of educational model. Instead, the ability to apply the knowledge learned in a video is far more beneficial.
So, how should students engage with online videos, and how should the instructor check for their understanding?
How Should Students Engage with Online Videos
First, before viewing a video tutorial, I provide students with a set of practice problems that overview the related skills that they should acquire. This practice directs their focus on the application of the content. Without this sample of related problems, I find that students aren't sure what they are supposed to do with the information in the video.
Second, although I instruct my students to take notes, they will be also be asked to perform the skill that was described in the video. I am most interested in their level of understanding related to the material, and their ability to apply the knowledge. In fairly short order, students seem to learn how detailed they need be in their notes so that they can successfully demonstrate understanding.
Figure 1: Practice problems direct student focus while watching videos.
How to Check For Understanding
I start every class with a short quiz that I call the “entrance card.” On this quiz, I ask students to solve 2 to 4 simple problems related to the video that probe their understanding of the material. Because I am asking the students to perform a new skill that they were only recently exposed, I allow them to use any notes that they took while watching the tutorial.
After about 4 - 6 minutes, students trade papers, and we grade the entrance cards as a class. Not only do students have immediate feedback on their skills related to that topic, but I’m also able to quickly assess who learned the material and who needs more practice. Also, the students who did not complete the video assignment are exposed because they generally earn a score of 0% on the entrance card.
Generally, right after we grade the entrance card, we transition into a group thinking activity. In this activity, students collaborate to think more deeply about the content. While they are interacting with one another, I’m able to look through their entrance cards and identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. This valuable practice allows me to target shortcomings when we gather again later in the class period.
On a final note, I find that students won’t take entrance cards seriously unless they count as a grade. However, I can’t expect that all students have mastered the material from watching one video tutorial. So, I always end the class period with an “exit card” that can replace a poor grade on their entrance card. To prevent students from simply relying on this “second chance,” I make the exit card more difficult. Thus, they learn that it’s best to perform on the entrance card so that they do not have to depend on the more challenging exit card.
Figure 2: Entrance and exit cards check for understanding.
The “entrance/exit card” system has worked well in my classes to increase understanding and increase the value of the classroom activities. I’d love to hear what methods you use to check for student understanding in a flipped class. Let me know in the comments!
- Tucker, B. (2012). The flipped classroom. Education next, 12(1), 82-83.
- Bishop, J. L., & Verleger, M. A. (2013, June). The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. In ASEE national conference proceedings, Atlanta, GA (Vol. 30, No. 9, pp. 1-18).