(Each month, I write a “From the Director” column for the UBC Okanagan Centre for Teaching and Learning newsletter.)
How do you get students to do the pre-class tasks in a flipped class? Perhaps have a reading quiz for marks – students who don’t do the tasks will fail the quiz.
That’s a stick. Make your reading quiz a carrot, though, and you can get more students completing the tasks and even better engagement in class.
You’re asking students to invest time and effort into your class so it’s reasonable that you reward them. Each pre-class assignment should have a matching reading quiz with a handful of questions that test the material presented in the readings and other resources. The questions are typically drawn straight from the material and don’t require higher-order analysis, synthesis or creation (that’s what you’ll be doing in class.) The quiz is typically multiple choice because that’s easier to run and assess. Any student who follows your pre-class guidance with reasonable care should score 100% on the quiz.
Some instructors use clickers to run the reading quiz at the beginning of class but I recommend you run the quiz online through the LMS, Connect:
- There’s more variety of questions: multiple-choice, “select all that apply”, students can type in words, phrases, sentences, and more.
- Include the question, “What did you find most confusing?” This is a great way to promote metacognition — students thinking about their own understanding of the concepts. There’s no right and wrong answers here – students can get a point for answering.
- Create the opportunity for students to contribute to the upcoming class. You can ask your students for examples of where they think Concept X might be important (“Besides airplane wings, where else is it important to determine lift?”). Find out who has had Experience Y (“Have you ever been scuba diving?”) and if they’d be willing to share those experiences with the class. Survey them to gauge their interest in Historical Event Z. Again, there are no wrong answers – every answer is valuable.
Use the tools in Connect to set the quiz to close at midnight the day before you teach (that is, late on Wednesday night before your Thursday class.) This gives you time to come to work in the morning, look over their responses, and adapt the lesson based on their needs and experiences. If many students are confused about a concept that you think is so easy you weren’t planning to explain it, well, you have time to change your lesson. And if half the class talks about the lift around wind turbine blades and no one mentions spoilers on race cars, you can change your race car example.
Imagine the feeling of empowerment when a student sees the example they suggested being analyzed or when they’re invited to share an experience. That’s a big carrot, big enough that the student will definitely do the pre-class tasks for the next class!