|
Dover Post
  • Delaware State University receives $400K grant to promote interactive learning

  • In most college classrooms, a professor lectures while students listen, or play games on their phones.After class, those students return to their dorms to answer questions and tackle problems for homework.

    But thanks to a new $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Delaware State University’s biology department is implementing a program that will turn that paradigm on its ear.
    • email print
      Comment
  • In most college classrooms, a professor lectures while students listen, or play games on their phones.
    After class, those students return to their dorms to answer questions and tackle problems for homework.
    But thanks to a new $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Delaware State University’s biology department is implementing a program that will turn that paradigm on its ear.
    “In the flip scenario, we are using a software platform called Echo 360, which allows us to record our lectures,” explained Sabrina McGary, an associate biology professor at DSU. “So we’ll be going through the textbook and putting up these smaller modules online and then asking the students to watch these videos on their own time and then come to the classroom prepared to use that information.”
    Last year, associate professor Andrew Lloyd piloted a flipped classroom in his freshman biology class, after scraping together some funds to purchase Echo 360. Lloyd said he had his students watch the video lectures he produced with the application and read their textbooks before coming to class. During class time, he had students tackle problems, answer questions and work in small groups.
    Lloyd then wrote a grant application that sought to expand the flipped classroom model. The $400,000 grant the biology department received will allow flipped classrooms to be implemented in two freshman level biology courses, cell biology and genetics, McGary said.
    The bulk of the funding will be spent on purchasing the Echo 360 software and the rest will be used to pay the salary of staff, who normally would be nine-month employees but will need to be employed over the summer to translate their courses into video segments.
    The decision to implement a flipped classroom model came as the result of several members of DSU’s science faculty who felt that the traditional lecture just wasn’t working, Lloyd said.
    “We know that [students] don’t really pick any thing up in the classroom if you just stand and talk and show pictures,” he said. “It just goes right past them. There is very little information retention at the point.”
    That meant that students were left to try and absorb the information on their own outside of class. The flipped model presents students with information in a video format which makes it easier to understand and then tasks them with applying it, Lloyd said.
    Students will be assigned a few video modules, each about 10 to 15 minutes, to watch before each class. That short video format works better for today’s students who are used to taking in smaller chunks of information, McGary said.
    “It will help us be able to assess them really quickly in the classroom, [including] who’s understanding the material and who’s not,” she said. “Our goal is to increase performance overall and raise our pass rates in all of our core biology classes.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The three-year grant will allow the biology department to expand their use to the flipped classroom model, but Lloyd is hoping that the program will extend even farther.
    “I want to see much wider adoption of this technique for learning throughout all the sciences,” he said. “I’m also hoping that the university will see the utility of this kind of system and that our success will prove that it’s worthwhile.”
     

        calendar