Exploring Global Thinking and Team-based Reflection in a Flipped Classroom



At our bachelor programs in computer science, we experience that a large fraction of students drop out from lectures and some eventually drop out from the studies completely. Some of the students are likely the ones that Felder and Silverman classify as the global learners: "They are the synthesizers, the multidisciplinary researchers, the systems thinkers, the ones who see the connections no one else sees." In this paper we will summarise our findings from running a three-week flipped classroom, global thinking session within a traditional database course offered to approximately 100 students. These three weeks covered all the XML related topics in the course. The aim of this project was to study if the flipped classroom would increase motivation and attendance - and thereby possibly the learning outcome. 

A key challenge in flipping the classroom is how to encourage students to prepare for the classroom sessions. Our approach was to encourage students to prepare for the sessions by designing at-home activities that could fit into the group-based reflection sessions at school. We wanted to encourage global thinking by allowing students to decide on how and in what order they covered the various XML topics. 

Empirically, the students filled out pre- and post-questionnaires, we observed how students collaborated in the in-class sessions, we conducted in-depth interviews of four of the teams, and we compared the exam results for this cohort of students with the results achieved by the next year cohort, which had the XML topics taught in the traditional way. 

The main-lessons learned were that students do think that a flipped classroom gives more opportunity for being active and that the majority of the student would like to see more global thinking in learning activities. However, we did not achieve as much at-home preparation or at-school collaboration and reflection within the teams as expected. Many teams split work among themselves and just assembled the individual parts without much reflection and discussion within the team. The exam results do not show big differences between the two groups, although it does seem that the weaker students did worse in the flipped classroom case compared to traditional teaching. 





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