Preparing for the Flipped Biology Lecture


Workshop facilitator: Dr. Adrienne Williams, UC Irvine

Adrienne's Flipped Bio class resources



Flipped Class Introduction:




Resources for Making Pre-Class Learning Elements

Whether you choose to have assigned reading or videos, here are some good practices:

  • Keep it basic: Content before class should be straightforward, like definitions, labeling, and simple steps of a process.
  • Generate "lecture notes": Students are more willing to go along with a flip if they finish their pre-class assignment with something that looks like lecture notes they can study from.
  • Guide the reading: If you are assigning textbook reading, you'll need to provide a lot of scaffolding. Instead of saying "Read chapter 10," list the vocabulary you want them to know, the specific sections, and the specific figures.


Making videos is a full topic itself. But here are some starting ideas for you to consider:

  • Avoid using a video recording of an actual lecture. They are too slow and long and feel isolating for the student who didn't get to "be there."
  • Common recording software is Techsmith's Camtasia products for Windows and Mac.
  • Here are some sample videos by Adrienne Williams, Bozeman Science (for high school bio), Brightstorm, and Khan Academy
  • Videos should be short and brisk. It isn't a lecture, it's a resource students can replay until they understand.
  • A benefit to making videos instead of assigning reading is that students are more likely to consider you a content expert.
  • UBC Zoology professor Rosie Redfield thoroughly explains her setup for recording her lectures. Best for Mac users. 7 min YouTube.



How do I get students to do the pre-class work?

Sorry -- you need to test them. Both online quizzes or in-class quizzes work fine. Some ideas:

  • Reduce cheating on online quizzes by creating 20 basic questions for each class, and assigning a random 5 to each student
  • Consider "just in time" questions in addition to content questions, like "what part of the reading was most confusing?"



In-Class Activities

Simple activities you can use tomorrow:

Each of these will easily take 10-15 minutes of class time. Note that each of these are also fantastic study skills for students to use on their own, so be sure to emphasize "use these techniques to study" every time you use one.

  • Notes from memory: Students put away notes and pull out a blank piece of paper. They write down everything that was discussed on a single topic, including drawings. Then students work in groups of 2-3 and compare notes.
    Teacher feedback: Groups report back on what was most often missed or wrong
  • Textbook outlining: Have students bring their book to class. On a document camera, show students how to find highlights of the text and model good book notetaking. Students work in groups to organize notes for a a second section of the text.
  • Exam question analysis: Track down a multiple-choice exam question that was heavily missed the previous year. Have students work in groups to write out why each answer choice was correct or incorrect. Increase difficulty by modifying answers so more than one is correct.
    Teacher feedback: make note of common misconceptions AND unclear exam writing
  • Drawing: Have students put away notes and draw a textbook figure from memory. Work in groups to increase content. Students can double-check notes and finish.


Activities that require less than an hour to prepare:

  • Make a table: Some biological concepts are easily organized into tables - functional groups and their properties, cytoskeletal elements and their structures and functions, etc. Have students try to complete it from memory, then from notes. A great way to reinforce good notetaking.
  • Invent a new figure: Sometimes the textbook just doesn't show something you want students to visualize - like following an electron from glucose to water during cellular respiration. Invent a diagram for your students to complete.
  • Narrate a video: Textbooks and the internet are a good source of animations of biological processes. Have students watch an animation in short segments and develop a written transcript that matches it. Then play with the real narration and have students compare.
  • Student Acting: Perhaps you have a biological process that you wish students could better visualize, like phloem loading. Create colored cards for students to hold to indicate molecules like glucose, or water, or a transporter. Use tape on the floor to separate cellular compartments. Students have to act out the biological process while you direct.


Activity sources for using the full class time:

  • HHMI Biointeractive has short films and teaching resources on multiple topics in biology. Most are at the college introductory level
  • National Center for Case Study Teaching has hundreds of case studies for lectures, some with clicker questions. They are making additional case studies now that will be specially designed for flipped classes.
  • DNA Interactive by Cold Spring Harbor has good resources for genetics courses



Dealing with push-back from students:

I teach first-quarter freshmen and they love the flipped class. From what I've read, student skepticism is highest from students who are skilled at dealing with traditional lecture and are concerned about change. Here are recommendations to prevent drama.

  • Emphasize that you are not adding work, you are merely moving their normal study behavior and homework to class time when you can help them with it.
  • Show data from papers (below) that active learning improves student grades
  • Make class activities clearly related to exams. Students are very practical and will support activities that improve exam scores
  • Don't use generic videos. Students want to feel like their instructors created their class.




Additional Resources for successfully flipping:

  • Teaching blog by Dr. Jung Choi, Associate Professor at Georgia Tech (Active 2014)





Popular Press References:

Berrett, D. (2012). How "Flipping" the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture. Chronicle of Higher Education.



Research References:

Baepler, P., Walker, J. D., & Driessen, M. (2014). It’s not About Seat Time: Blending, Fipping, and Efficiency in Active Learning Classrooms. Computers & Education.


Davies, R. S., Dean, D. L., & Ball, N. (2013). Flipping the classroom and instructional technology integration in a college-level information systems spreadsheet course. Educational Technology Research and Development,61(4), 563-580.


Gannod, G. C., Burge, J. E., & Helmick, M. T. (2008, May). Using the inverted classroom to teach software engineering. In Proceedings of the 30th international conference on Software engineering (pp. 777-786). ACM.


Haak, D. C., HilleRisLambers, J., Pitre, E., & Freeman, S. (2011). Increased structure and active learning reduce the achievement gap in introductory biology. Science332(6034), 1213-1216.


Kim, J., & Chen, C. Y. (2011, October). The influence of integrating pre-online lecture videos in classrooms: A case study. In World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (Vol. 2011, No. 1, pp. 244-249).


Kurtz, B. L., Fenwick Jr, J. B., & Ellsworth, C. C. (2007, March). Using podcasts and tablet PCs in computer science. In Proceedings of the 45th annual southeast regional conference (pp. 484-489). ACM.


McLaughlin, J. E., Griffin, L. M., Esserman, D. A., Davidson, C. A., Glatt, D. M., Roth, M. T., ... & Mumper, R. J. (2013). Pharmacy student engagement, performance, and perception in a flipped satellite classroom. American journal of pharmaceutical education77(9).


McLaughlin, J. E., Roth, M. T., Glatt, D. M., Gharkholonarehe, N., Davidson, C. A., Griffin, L. M., ... & Mumper, R. J. (2014). The flipped classroom: a course redesign to foster learning and engagement in a health professions school.Academic Medicine89(2), 236-24


Moravec, M., Williams, A., Aguilar-Roca, N., & O'Dowd, D. K. (2010). Learn before lecture: a strategy that improves learning outcomes in a large introductory biology class. CBE-Life Sciences Education9(4), 473-481.


Pierce, R. (2013). Student Performance in a Flipped Class Module. InSociety for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (Vol. 2013, No. 1, pp. 942-954).


Pierce, R., & Fox, J. (2012). Vodcasts and active-learning exercises in a “flipped classroom” model of a renal pharmacotherapy module. American journal of pharmaceutical education76(10).


Prunuske, A. J., Batzli, J., Howell, E., & Miller, S. (2012). Using online lectures to make time for active learning. Genetics192(1), 67-72.


Smith, J. D. (2013). Student attitudes toward flipping the general chemistry classroom. Chemistry Education Research and Practice14(4), 607-614.


Strayer, J. F. (2012). How learning in an inverted classroom influences cooperation, innovation and task orientation. Learning Environments Research,15(2), 171-193.


Tune, J. D., Sturek, M., & Basile, D. P. (2013). Flipped classroom model improves graduate student performance in cardiovascular, respiratory, and renal physiology. Advances in physiology education37(4), 316-320.