Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Inquiring minds want to know..Did it work? Data Data Data

Forewarning: This is a long post! I finally have some numbers to crunch!

So in all of the craziness and excitement of flipping the big unanswered question of the term was...did it work? Now there are different definitions of "work." From my point of view my students were excited, engaged and busy the entire time they were in my room. They were also learning content at home rather than doing "busy work." So yes if you ask me if my flip was a success thus far I would give a resounding, "Yes"! Of course because of the way our school systems are set up all of that is fine but parents and principals really want to know, what do the grades look like? I have to admit this part had me nervous. Since I was using a mastery based grading system, I had a sense of where students were at, but I couldn't make any definitive answer since many were working right up to the end of the term. I also, if you remember from previous posts, had gotten frustrated with a few classes and wondered if they were all simply going to fail for lack of effort.

Welp, today was the day, grades were do and crunch the numbers I did... and I was pleasantly surprised! All of my classes saw at least a 50% improvement, one even saw an 88% an improvement. Each class also saw a percentage of grades drop, but these were around 15% in most classes, and as low as 5% in one. I'm not thrilled with that number but it is to be expected, and an area for improvement. Between 10 and 20% of students stayed the same in each class as well. Overall for all of my students I saw a 65% improvement, a 15% drop, and 19% stayed the same (these are rounded figures, the actual data is off by a margin of 2% due to pass/fails and other grading situations).

So where does that leave me? Very happy, yes it is not a whopping 90% of students seeing improvement, but it is an excellent start, and data only goes so far, where I was most pleased was the growth of some of my lowest scoring students, who I knew with a different class set up would thrive. For example:

3 students raised their D to a C
5 students raised their D to a B
2 students raised their D to an A

Even more exciting:

2 students raised their F to a C
1 student raised their F to a B
1 student raised their F to an A!!!!!

Though many care more about the overall data, I can't help but look at those success stories. Two of them in particular were students who I knew had the potential to be great but were falling through the cracks of a traditional system. I saw them turn it around, very enthusiastic to do projects, and ultimately getting the content at home as well.

I am pleased as well not just that grades have gone up, but they have gone up with "mastery." In other words, students grades reflect the work they put in, and the content they understood, not some kind of points game. Interestingly enough I still gave out the same number of "failing" grades this term as I did last term, however it was a different set of students. Students who had previously squeaked by because of "bonus points" and the way things were weighted suddenly found out that if they did not put the time and effort in, they weren't going to pass. This is just a small sample of the very first data to come out of this experiment, but I am pleased. I think this is a great starting point to move forward from and I hope to see even more improvement in the coming term!

I hope this post does not make me come across as someone who is grade conscience or even really cares about grades (because to be honest I feel there are so many more ways a student can demonstrate their knowledge), but inquiring minds (parents, administration, and others) do seem to use these as bench marks for success. Has anyone else seen a drastic improvement in grades? Was it a "honey moon phase" where grades reverted back? Does anyone else hate grading students??

Happy Flipping! =)


  1. This sounds great! What are your assessments like? Do you give tests? Or is it mostly project-based? How do you know if the students are really retaining the knowledge?

    1. Hi! Thanks for the comment! Actually the projects only count for about 20% of their grade. When I switched to flipping I also switched to a "mastery" based grading system.

      The kids watch approximately 3 lectures a week, after each lecture they take an online quiz. The quizzes in this case don't count for anything in terms of their grade, but they must achieve an 80 or better on all quizzes in a section to take the test. If they don't, they have to go back and re-watch the lecture and retake the quiz. Once they feel they are ready, they make an appointment with me and we go over materials to be sure, and then they can either take a paper base exam in class, or an online exam. They are an essay and short answer style assessment. Students must achieve an 80 or better on these exams to "master" the unit. Again they can retake this as many times as needed (different questions each time of course). I found by the last section I didn't have as many students in need of retakes. This counts for 60 percent of their grade, and breaks down as follows:

      4 mastered units = A
      3 mastered units = B
      2 mastered units = c
      1 mastered unit = D
      0= F

      I think there is a clearer break down of how I grade under the post "Plan Phase 1" in January if you are interested. Also if you check out my post on testing you will see that I switched from a memory based test to more of an "assessment." I allow students to use their notes, and their tests are mostly essay and short answer based. Are they "retaining" information in terms of memorizing dates? Well to be honest I'm not sure, but I cared less about that than their ability to synthesize information and understand how it all fits in to the bigger picture. I feel that with the internet so readily available, memorization is not as important as understanding how to use that information o make a coherent argument. I actually find students have had more difficulty with these kinds of tests in the past than ones they could memorize facts for. However if that was something you were concerned about in a flipped class, you could still give a standard test that demonstrated retained knowledge.

      The projects serve to dig deeper into a topic that they are interested in from the lectures that week. Part of their grade on them is a conversation with me where they demonstrate what knowledge they have come to have as a result of their research.

      I'm sure this system doesn't work for every subject or classroom, but I definitely saw kids taking charge of their own learning, which excited me greatly =). Sorry for such a long post, but I hope that answered some questions. Do you currently flip? If so what subject/grade?