2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 304-8
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM


KOZIOL, Andrea M., Dept. of Geology, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469

At the University of Dayton, a nominally 400-level Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology course is taken by sophomores and juniors directly after a standard Mineralogy course. The material is more advanced, and a continuing problem is the lack of student preparation for discussion and application of sophisticated petrological concepts. In the past I have taken one of two approaches: #1: assume the students have not read the book or prepared, lecture on basics and then advanced concepts; or #2: employ “just-in-time” questions on basics, move more quickly over the basics in class, and spend more time on advanced topics. Campus culture leads students to expect approach #1. I employed approach #2 for two years, with mixed results.

This year (2014 class) I employed approach #3: (Partially) flip the classroom by requiring students to answer questions that guide them through the entire required reading. Emboldened by others’ experience on campus, I forged ahead, without enough time to prepare video mini-lectures or powerpoint lectures before class times. Classroom time consisted of discussion and review of the reading, practice exercises, and short lectures by me of various advanced concepts.

Results: The semester started well, with active discussion around a large table, and informed questions by students. Previous homework assignments were deployed as in-class exercises. The prep questions and in-class exercises were a substantial (30%) portion of a student’s mark. Quality of student questions and in-class understanding of basic concepts and even advanced concepts increased remarkably, based on quality of student discussions. However, after 10 – 15 class meetings this style became stale. Students complained about the workload of the questions along with other assignments (2 poster presentations, 2 short papers, 2 semester take-home exams, and a final). The 2014 class performed marginally better on semester exams and the final exam than the 2012 and 2013 classes. Overall marks improved with no C’s or D’s in the 2014 class, so this approach apparently benefitted the weaker students more. Student evaluations on end of semester forms were mixed. A few students appreciated the “flipped” style, but several students strongly suggested going back to a lecture style.