Dr. Viji Sathy was recently featured as a UNC Faculty Success Story. UNC published the following article, which can be found here.
Dr. Viji Sathy, a faculty member in the Psychology Department, has been teaching Statistical Principles of Psychological Research each fall and spring semester for the past five years. She was concerned about the number of students in this class of 180 who struggled to keep up in lecture and quickly fell behind. So in 2013, working with the CFE, she redesigned the course to allow her to interact more with her students.
The biggest change was shifting most of the in-class lectures to a series of 5- to 8-minute recorded online segments for students to view before coming to class. This approach, popularly known as “flipping the classroom,” allowed Dr. Sathy to cut her in-class lecture time by about 75% and devote more class time to active learning methods.
In a typical in-class assignment, Dr. Sathy would assign students to work together on problems and post their answers through a class polling system (Poll Everywhere). She would then lead the class in discussion of the problem and the results. (See video here.) “I liked that the format I implemented gave me more opportunities to interact with students one-on-one,” said Sathy. “I could walk around the room when they were working on a problem; it felt like I was more accessible to them.”
The CFE worked closely with Dr. Sathy to evaluate the results of these changes, and they have been very encouraging. The percentage of students earning A’s and B’s on the final exam increased significantly in the redesigned course (39.0% vs. 25.7%). Meanwhile, students representing historically underperforming populations also saw higher scores on the final exam. Students reported that the video lecture format let them view materials at their own pace and to review challenging segments multiple times. Students were more likely to come to class prepared.
Despite the amount of work that went into planning and implementing the redesign, Dr. Sathy thinks it was worth the effort. “For me, it is tougher than lecturing,” she says, “but I’m excited by the potential this has to change what I can do in an introductory statistics class.” She plans to explore additional interventions for students who continue to struggle with the course content. For example, she is interested in the use of structured learning groups and new instruments that may help address stereotype threat and other metacognitive barriers to learning.
Dr. Sathy received a grant through the CFE’s 100+ program to help support her work on the project. She has been a very active member of one of the CFE’s first faculty learning communities on large course redesign. She is currently preparing an article on her findings that she plans to submit for publication.