Research Assistant: Clair LeBlanc (Pomona ’23)
Title: Facilitating Better Flipped-Classroom Learning in Genetics
Goal: To redesign BIOL 40: Introductory Genetics by replacing traditional reading quizzes with interactive videos and online video quizzes
Jon Moore, André Cavalcanti, and Mihoko Kato, all instructors of BIOL 40: Introductory Genetics, felt that the flipped-classroom style they adopted in the semesters following the start of the pandemic was both effective and enjoyable. They also received similar feedback from their students. As a result, they planned to retain a flipped model upon returning to in-person instruction but also make improvements.
Moore, Cavalcanti, and Kato had previously used self-paced videos paired with automated quizzes from their textbook website to supplement their usual teaching style of lecturing alongside a PowerPoint. Quiz completion served as evidence that students had read the material prior to class. Growing increasingly dissatisfied with this approach, the instructors hoped to find a better way to incentivize outside-of-class work, increase engagement, and target specific topics, all without increasing student workload. Thus, they planned to still recommend the textbook reading but no longer require it. Additionally, to emphasize the skills and content they valued, they implemented customized video quizzes.
The instructors hired Clair LeBlanc, a former BIOL 40 student and mentor, to provide a student perspective and help with the workload. With guidance, LeBlanc watched the instructors’ videos, provided critiques so they could improve the videos, wrote questions, and implemented the quizzes. The end result was a collection of VidGrid videos with supplementary quizzes created using digital forms. The instructors found these platforms accessible and easy to use for themselves and learners alike.
The flipped classroom is often cited as advantageous to closing the equity gap, as in-class practice in place of lecture, can be particularly helpful for learners at various stages. Because the instructor is present to assist students, those who might otherwise struggle have ready access to the support they need, as was the case for students in this cohort of BIOL 40.
In the Hahn Teaching with Technology Project Showcase, Moore described the project’s overall success, explaining that the new videos and supporting quizzes allowed students to explore their knowledge in a low-stakes environment. Even when students selected an incorrect choice, they were given a simplified explanation and a timestamp directing them to the corresponding lecture video for a deeper explanation. In essence, the video quizzes provided the outside-of-class learning motivation faculty hoped for while also giving students engaging materials, brief knowledge checks with immediate feedback, and just-in-time instruction where further support was needed.