We are particularly excited about the potential of this project not only because it is an attempt to redesign a course to address high ‘DFW rates’, but also because of the preliminary groundwork already completed for this research such as piloting the pedagogy and assessment strategies, the initial impact that has already been demonstrated through preliminary data collection, and the planned implementation and collaboration across multiple years of the nursing program.
To see descriptions and updates for this and other projects funded through the TransCanada Learning Innovation and Collaborative Inquiry Research Program, see here.
Impact of Concept Maps and a Flipped Classroom Model in Biology and Nursing
Collaborative Research Team: Michelle Yeo, Academic Development Centre; Sarah Hewitt, Department of Biology; Joanne Bouma, Department of Nursing and Midwifery
Anatomy and Physiology is a year-long, first year course taught in two parts – BIOL 1220 and 1221. This is a service course taught by the Biology Department and is a required course for first year nursing students. This first year anatomy and physiology course has traditionally had one of the highest failure and withdrawal rates at the university. It is an extremely content heavy course, historically taught with a lecture/exam-based model. Students take the course in their first year of the nursing program as a required course. Faculty in the Nursing Program, including co-investigator Joanne Bouma, have repeatedly observed that students who barely pass this course struggle in subsequent courses, especially pathophysiology which they take in their second year. Consequently, there is a lot of impetus to try to improve their understanding of the basic material in the first year.
Based on prior interviews with students, and the observations of faculty teaching the course, the students struggle to find the best approach to learning so much content. Their retention of material beyond the exams is very poor, and for this reason, they are unable to make connections between later concepts that are based on, or identical to, earlier concepts. In an effort to help the students develop a more structured approach to learning, retaining information, and making connections between concepts, Sarah Hewitt decided to radically alter the course delivery in the sections she was teaching. In consultation with Michelle Yeo, Hewitt re-configured the course by amalgamating shortened lectures and in-class group work, with some typical components of a flipped classroom – more work outside of class time that allows for more student engagement activities in class. The biggest change involved the development of skeleton concept maps. Von Der Heidt (2015) argues that concept mapping can powerfully contribute to deep learning for students. Furthermore, a series of video lectures were created that students watched outside the class and could view them repeatedly as needed.
Calls have been made in the literature for research to help build an evidence base to justify the implementation of flipped approaches, and to increase their effectiveness through a better understanding of what does and does not work (Vickrey et al. 2015). Our SoTL work intends to discover how well these new approaches in BIOL 1220&21 are working and why. Furthermore, a recent study (Van Vliet, Winnips, & Brouwer, 2015) suggests that the benefits of a flipped model are not maintained if the pedagogy is not continued. Thus the GOALS of this project are as follows:
1. To assess the success of the partially flipped classroom as a teaching tool in first year,
2. To see whether this method can be used in the follow-up pathophysiology course in second year, and finally,
3. To find out whether the combination of this teaching method on both first and second year courses is an effective way for the students to more thoroughly learn the material, increase their long term retention of concepts and/or their ability to apply the concepts in a clinical setting.
We are proposing a two-year project to accomplish these goals. The project represents a partnership between three faculty members from Biology, Nursing, and the Academic Development Centre.