The flipped classroom approach has led to many changes in the teaching and learning process. Compared to traditional teaching, students in a flipped class are expected to do much more work on their own, including self-learning and engagement in learning activities inside and outside the classroom. The success of the approach thus relies very much on students' quality engagement in these learning activities.
We deem that assessments in courses that employ the flipped classroom approach need to change in order to motivate and acknowledge student's effort in spending the extra learning effort as mentioned above.
Two main changes
The traditional way of assessment does not match the flipped classroom pedagogy. First of all, traditional assessments only focus on the products of learning but not the process. Many students thus would risk skipping the hard work in the learning process since it does not directly link to marks. The skipping will be much more attractive if students also find that most items in the assessment can be answered even without actively engaging in the learning activities - for example, the assessment is a typical examination paper that only requires textbook knowledge.
Assessments in a course that employs the flipped classroom approach thus are to change. Echoing the discussion above, the changes can be in two main directions.
Acknowledge the LEARNING PROCESS by giving marks to the various learning activities: e.g. the preparation, online discussion, class activities, and self-directed learning, etc.
Tap students’ acquisition of higher LEARNING OUTCOMES, particularly those that are the results of the flipped classroom approach.
Ideas for effective assessment
When designing your assessment scheme, consider the followings:
In order to give marks to the learning process, assessments have to be more frequent and continuous. Assessments are thus not limited to mid-term or final examinations only. Instead, there are many more opportunities now for teachers to give marks to students based on their participations in activities in-class or out-of-class. The learning process marks are spread out at various times over the semester because we want students' engagement in the learning process spread out at all the stages as well.
2. Purposes of assessments
We all know that assessment can be the single most influential element in any curriculum that prescribes students' approach to learning. Achieving a good grade in a course is inevitably the thing that many students care the most. They also tend to formulate a ‘cost-effective’ learning method that enables them to gain the highest marks possible while spending the least effort. Traditional assessment thus does not provide enough incentive to these students to spend extra effort in the now more demanding learning process, or to encourage them to aim at achieving the higher learning outcomes if these are not reflected in the assessments.
Communicating assessment expectations with students is important to get students to do their work. Here are some techniques to help you enhance the transparency of your assessments.
Inform classroom activities/questions beforehand
Make sure students’ classroom activity performance is part of the assessment. Then they will be putting more effort in participating in-class. If you can also relate clearly how the self-learning part can enable students to perform better in the classroom activities, students then will be putting more effort in the home part as well. In a few occasions, you may even want to inform beforehand all or some details of the classroom activities. If these activities are intellectually challenging enough, you should be able to find students even better prepare for their classes.
Use of rubrics
The use of rubrics can be a common strategy to score students’ work in the various flipped classroom activities, home or in-class. The advantage of a rubric is that marks can be given to acknowledge the learning processes, while a traditional marking scheme often allocates marks only to the learning results, i.e. the exact points or ideas mentioned in the homework or classwork. A typical rubric can contain learning process items such as the ability to improve based on feedback, and the ability to judge opinions from various sources, etc. If it is group work, the rubric may contain items about various aspects of students’ team-work performance.