Title

Flipping the calculus classroom: an evaluative study

Publication Date

12-29-2015

Document Type

Article

Department

Mathematics and Statistics

Disciplines

Education | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Science and Mathematics Education

Publication Title

Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA

Volume

35

Issue

4

DOI

10.1093/teamat/hrv019

First Page

187

Last Page

201

Abstract

Classroom flipping is the practice of moving new content instruction out of class time, usually packaging it as online videos and reading assignments for students to cover on their own, and devoting in-class time to interactive engagement activities. Flipping has garnered a large amount of hype from the popular education media and has been adopted in a variety of contexts. Despite this high amount of interest, few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of classroom flipping on student academic outcomes. Specifically, no rigorous studies of the effects of flipping a mathematics course on students’ mathematical understandings and achievement appear in the literature. This article reports results from a control group study of flipping a large (N = 690), first-year university calculus course for life sciences students. Students in the flipped course sections on average outperformed their counterparts in the traditional sections on the final exam, though only by approximately 8%. A more detailed analysis reveals the true beneficiaries in a flipped classroom—those with high basic mathematical ability and low initial calculus knowledge. Gains for this group are considerable: approximately 10% on the final, with an effect size of d = 0.56, and comparable gains on an independent measure of calculus concept mastery. This study positions classroom flipping as an effective practice in undergraduate mathematics and calls for further research into the mechanisms behind its effectiveness.

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