Assess

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:
1. Frequency
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.

Consider the following assessment types.

Want to get students engaged in the LEARNING PROCESS?

Obtain learning analytics about students' viewing of the video resources. Some platforms even provide information like whether students have gone through the whole video, skipped a part or not, viewed a part more than once, and viewed the videos at regular speed or not.

Viewing of videos

Ask students to complete an online exercise after viewing the video resources. The exercise should be able to remind students that they have to finish the preparation in a given time frame and also let them self-check their understanding before coming to class. Their performance in these exercises can be part of the assessment.

Online Exercise

Making the classroom activity appropriately challenging is an important way to motivate students. Case-based activity can make the activity challenging as students are asked to analyze a great deal of data and information in order to come up with a solution. Assessment criteria should focus on abilities to analyze and evaluate the case situation, to logically formulate a sensible solution b, and to explain their thinking process and defend their standpoints upon queries.

Case-based activity

Ask students to engage in open-ended discussions after viewing the videos and before coming to class. Request students to cast their view and respond to each other. The task will drive students complete the pre-assigned self-learning in time and spend enough time understanding the issues at hand through communicating with each other in the discussions. 

Quality and quantity of discussions

Ask students what they think (things they valued, disliked, disagreed, did not understand, or a follow-up question) after viewing the resources instead of asking them to do an MC exercise. This exercise makes students see that we value their independent and critical thinking. Make the commentary exercise a part of the assessment.  

Quality and quantity of commentary

Some of the classroom activities can take the form of competitions or games. Assessments of these activities can also deviate from the traditional way of scoring. For example, only winners may have scores or bonus marks in these activities. This game-like scoring method, used occasionally, can be highly motivating.   

Competitions and game-like activities

Use technology (such as a student response system) to collect students' input/ answers in the classroom. You may also keep a good record of the outstanding performers in each of the classroom activities. This list of good performers means additional marks to them in the assessment.

Class activity participation

Click on the following learning outcomes that you aim for and see how you can help students to develop these skills/abilities through assessments.

Want to help students to develop higher LEARNING OUTCOMES?  

We believe that students can learn effectively from each other and practice valuable team-work skills through flipped classroom activities. Students' engagement in these peer activities thus should be encouraged by appreciations in the assessments. For example, individual students' contributions in a group project should be closely monitored. Students in the same project group do not necessarily have the same marks. Students in one group can also participate in evaluating each other's contributions upon completion of the project.

Peer learning

Assessment should be tuned to encourage students to take more control of their own learning. Ask students to submit self-learning reports in which they explain the extended learning they have completed. Even in the traditional essay-type examination paper, active learning and creativity can also be encouraged through allocating marks to the ‘unexpected extensions’ (SOLO Taxonomy) – i.e. things not formally taught or students’ new insights. In other words, we should not mark the paper by referring to a rigid marking scheme in which all the points that can carry marks are fixed.

Active learning and creativity

In flipped classroom approach, students are often encouraged to self-learn things other than the required or suggested. Acknowledging students’ extended learning is thus important especially in the early stage when students may not have the intrinsic drive to learn yet. A way to do it may be, as an online exercise before or after class, to ask students to report one or two additional learning resources they have found together with their own comments of the new things they learn.

Self-directed learning

Instead of convergent questions, ask divergent questions in a flipped classroom. Firstly, the questions are more challenging and they demand much critical thinking. Secondly, most real life problems are complex and are not convergent. Going through divergent questions enables students to better solve real-life problems in the future. Another way to facilitate problem-solving skills is to make the exam another flipped classroom activity. Assign pre-class resources to students. Then give students a complex task to do (individual or team work) in the exam time. 

Problem-solving
3. Transparency

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.

 
Formative assessments
The assessment ideas above should not be used for summative purposes alone. Students can be benefited by constant feedback on the learning processes. It is thus a good idea that teachers make the assessment methods as transparent as possible and give students timely feedback after each task as soon as possible. Additional help and guidelines can be given to students if they need assistance on various self-learning and team-working skills.
 
 
Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation
Assessments focus on giving students the extrinsic motivation to engage in the flipped classroom but we should not neglect the intrinsic motivation. In other words, it is better for the students to believe in the new approach, feel the usefulness and like learning in the new way.  Building the intrinsic motivation for students to learn the flipped classroom approach is discussed further under the ‘Incentives’ component of this project.
 
 
Learn more by watching the below videos:
 
(Looking for ideas to run a workshop to guide your fellow faculties to explore and discuss the strategies demonstrated above? Check out the Workshop Resource(s) we prepared for suggested activities, group discussion questions, and more!)