The effect of introducing on-line quizzes in a virtual learning environment and implications for the flipped classroom
Paper in proceedings, 2015
This paper reports on an action research project to improve teaching and learning in an applied physics course, given to master students and in a purely virtual learning environment. Before the reform, the course was designed around pre-recorded lectures available for on-demand viewing, as well as tutorials live-broadcasted with the possibility for synchronous interaction between students and teachers. The teachers were also available to answer questions during dedicated sessions, to which the students had to register in advance.
However, none of the students ever registered for these synchronous sessions. The question driving the reform then became: How could we increase the interaction between the students and the teachers?
Drawing on the idea of just-in-time teaching (JiTT), the course was redesigned to also include the following elements: on-line quizzes embedded in the pre-recorded lectures and focusing on conceptual understanding; the possibility to pose questions to the teachers while watching the lectures; easy and rapid rating of the lectures and the possibility for students to provide more specific feedback on the lectures; regular synchronous wrap-up sessions designed to address the students’ needs and based on the input from the students; and discussion fora.
One interesting effect of introducing on-line conceptual quizzes, together with the possibility to pose questions while watching the lectures, was the dramatic increase in the number of questions posed by the students. Using the revised version of Bloom’s taxonomy for the cognitive domain to classify the questions, we found that the level or quality of the questions also increased, reflecting a deeper understanding of the contents. This was also noticed during the wrap-up sessions. Moreover, the conceptual nature of the questions in the quizzes triggered more across-the-course integrative questions from the students compared to the questions by the students when solving the home assignments. In the paper, we will support these findings with data collected from two iterations of the course, and via a learning management system.
This study highlights, in particular, the importance of using on-line quizzes in tandem with the pre-recorded lectures to encourage students to take a deep approach to learning when implementing flipped classroom models. To better handle and make use of the large number of questions generated in the redesigned course, we will, in the next iteration of the course, let the students discuss selected questions in the discussion fora to also strengthen the element of peer interaction.