11- Bursting Bubbles

A dog pops a bubble- http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Popped.jpg
Some bubbles just have to pop.

The semester has started and I’m already sprinting full speed to keep up.  My grand vision of having all my video lectures recorded before the first day of class (so I could spend more time focusing on improving the ACTIVITIES we do during class time) has been effectively filed in the “popped bubble” category of my life.

But I have received so much positive feedback this week that I’m cool with the popped bubble (and very willing to keep sprinting to pull it all off).

My first class was Monday.  I met my posse of new students during “lecture” Monday morning.  I saw them all again later in the day, for their first lab.  I administered a quiz at the end of the lab on anatomical terminology and I included two anonymous survey questions at the top of the quiz: “Do you like this class?” and “Do you like the flip?”  I asked students to answer each question using a scale of 1-5.  The results of this survey provide a reference point from which to analyze class climate.

Do you like this class?




Not really….







Do you like the flip?




Not really….







I tend to be a “glass-half-full” kind of gal, but these survey results really are optimistic.  Only 9% of my students, on day one, feel even indifferent about flipping the course.  None of them are negative about it.  Now, I certainly am under no illusion that these numbers will stay the same as the course proceeds.  I am confident that as students experience the challenging nature of Human Anatomy, they will become more critical of my methods.  But this certainly is an interesting baseline and I look forward to seeing how the numbers change as the semester progresses.

On the other hand, perhaps I have a particularly positive and motivated group of students this semester.  I already have some evidence that this might be the case.  Wednesday (day two of my class), there was a campus-wide power outage. Most of my students had already arrived at the lecture hall to discover that we’d all been locked out of the buildings (by the electric locks!)  Lecture was cancelled, but we were told that lab might not be.  75% of my students gathered at the picnic tables outside the lecture hall and we held a flipped class anyway.  I didn’t get to use my cool new clicker questions, but we actually had nice, low tech flipped class in some rare Humboldt County sunshine.

I’m blowing a new bubble.  I think this is going to be a good semester.

2 thoughts on “11- Bursting Bubbles

  1. I’m going to be picky here .. not trying to be mean, but this is quite important. Your two questions in the survey were: “Do you like this class?” and “Do you like the flip?” After teaching for many years (and having tenure) I’ve come to realize that what student’s like is not all that important. Well .. it is is you are trying to get good teaching evaluations from the students. The the important thing is “are students learning the objectives?” – and this is a long way from “like.” My own student evaluations are down quite a ways now that I’m flipping — but I’m tenured, and my boss says “that’s fine – I trust you”. (Wonderful to have a good boss) Key is that my gut tells me that flipping is the right thing to do at this time with these students, and I’m the person in charge of the room.. So I’m going to flip, even if my students dont like it so much. That’s my job. (-:

    I have talked to some non-tenured professors and I’ve advised them not to flip — they cant afford the risk of bad student evaluations due to politics (what has to be done to get tenure? / what has to be done to keep your job, etc.)

    Hang in there! This is not easy, but it is indeed worth it.

    • What an interesting comment! (Please don’t ever worry about being “mean”…I love these discussions!)
      I agree COMPLETELY that my survey questions reveal nothing about the effectiveness of the method. You are right–to really evaluate the success of the flip, I need to analyze whether or not the flipped students are more effectively meeting the LO’s. But thinking about your comment made me realize a couple of fundamental beliefs I have about education, and these shed light onto why I think these survey questions are important.
      1. I cannot force others to learn, no matter how many sticks or carrots I implement. I can vividly remember creating complex behavior reward systems when I was student teaching at Eureka High School in 1999…and being SHOCKED (and intimidated) when a powerful posse of sophomore boys shattered each of my carefully constructed systems. I quickly realized that my most effective tool is fostering intrinsic motivation, then holding students accountable for their OWN decisions.
      2. People are more likely to learn if they are enjoying the process. This does not mean that I make my class “easy”, or “fluffy”, or structure it to encourage good student evaluations. It just means that I want folks to enjoy the process…because for most of us, learning really IS fun.
      Finally, I do think I am operating in a bit of a bubble, because I am a part-time adjunct instructor and my job security is not so affected by student evaluations. I BEG people to come evaluate me, but it only happens once every two years. I conduct my own student evaluations each semester, but they do not inform my job security. I am cheap labor and as long as I’m not burning anything down, folks in charge around here are happy to let me do my thing. This allows me the flexibility to freely experiment in my classes. I realize the luxury of this.
      I really do love your comments, Murray.

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