Flipping the calculus classroom: an evaluative study

Read the full article at http://teamat.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/4/187.full

Flipping the calculus classroom: an evaluative study

  1. Wes Maciejewski* Wes Maciejewski obtained his Ph.D. in mathematical biology in 2012 from Queen’s University, Canada. Since then, his research has focused on mathematics education at the tertiary level. He always welcomes unsolicited emails from potential collaborators.

+ Author Affiliations

  1. Department of Mathematics, The University of Auckland, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
  1. w.maciejewski
  • Received July 1, 2015.
  • Accepted November 1, 2015.

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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.