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Beyond the Flipped Chemistry Project at Marquette

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[Originally published fall 2015]


Last (academic) year, I wrote about our controlled comparison of lecture and flipped courses in our non-majors General Chemistry program, which I called the Flipped Classroom Project at Marquette. Our goal was to test the flipped classroom in a large enrollment first year chemistry course. Our approach pushed lecture content outside of the class using short (13 min on avg.) videos, and one 75 min face-to-face discussion was held each week, led by the instructor and TA. The results show that performance on 5 common exams was statistically similar (p < 0.05) in the two courses across every grade demographic save one – the bottom group of students, as measured either by pretest or by percentile ranking in the prior course. Following this trend, a significant reduction in the DFW (Ds, Fs, withdrawals) % was observed in the flipped course, as compared to the lecture-based course and historical data in the course.

Where do we go from here?

Given our interest in applying the flipped approach to large enrollment, non-majors chemistry courses, we are interested in scaling up the size of the sections. In our pilot, we kept the flipped discussion enrollment at 30/section, to match the discussion size of the control. This spring, we are piloting a scale-up, using a new approach. As shown in the figure below, our laboratory floor features three adjoining labs with space for 24 students each. We plan to offer a 50 minute flipped discussion immediately prior to the lab, to be held in the same room. A teaching assistant in each room will lead discussion, with the professor floating between the 3 rooms. By holding two of these each week, we envision that 144 students can be accommodated with two discussion meetings. Moreover, we anticipate that the timing of discussion and lab affords a greater opportunity for coordination of activities.

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About the Author
Dr. Reid is currently Professor and Chairperson in the Department of Chemistry at Marquette University. He received a B.S. degree from Union University (Jackson, TN) in 1985, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) in 1990 under the direction of J. Douglas McDonald. His interests in molecular spectroscopy and chemical dynamics led him to the University of Southern California, where he completed post-doctoral training under the direction of Hanna Reisler. He came to Marquette as an Assistant Professor in 1994, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2000 and Professor in 2005. In 2004, he spent a semester at National Tsing Hua University (Hsinchu, Taiwan) as an NSC fellow, working in the group of Professor Yuan-Pern Lee. In 2010, he was awarded a Way-Klingler sabbatical fellowship, which he spent at UW-Madison and University of Sydney (Australia).