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Conclusions from flipping an Investment Unit Lecture/Tute Model

As part of the SAFFIRE project at UC the Faculty of Business Government and Law (Discipline of Accounting, Banking and Finanace) and Shane Nuessler from TLC and Dr Felicia Zhang have been planning, designing, trialing, and evaluating a flipped classroom design for a unit on Investments starting August 2013. Our first meeting involved the whole discipline 7th August 2013. As a result of this meeting three units were agreed as ideal for trialing the flipped model. Rather than using the common binary model of a unit convener working with a learning designer the team teaching approach allows the course team to enrich the design with collective wisdom and experience (collaborative design) as well as have direct experience of the outcomes of the design (intended and unintended) through direct involvement in delivery (co-teaching the unit).  


Issues/Challenges common accross the Discipline of Finance Banking and Accounting, as identified in the Team Teaching Workshop held on the 7th August 2013.
  • students struggle with technical aspects on units, e.g investments, finance, etc
  • lecture attendance is low, often dropping off in the middle and climbing again toward the end of the unit (perhaps in the lead up to exams)
  • lack of student preparation for tutorials
  • students not collecting assessments and or the feedback attached
  • students having high workloads on and off campus
  • skills relating to language and scholarship
  • students need to be more self directed (e.g. not interested in their mistakes)
  • students struggle with new content because they didn't retain the underpinning knowledge from pre-requisite units.
  • students generally expect that lectures be audio and video recorded and made available online
  • some students tend toward memorisation rather than understanding
  • some students are passive learners
  • lack of tacit knowledge about the business environment
  • lack of contact hours (e.g. not enough time to link contextual factors/needs with calculations. How do you arrive at appropriate decisions  which is demonstrated by the right calculation. How to comply with legislation, accounting/auditing rules
From this list of challenges and issues the team identified the characteristics that they wanted to encourage and build in their students and the role they wanted as teachers:
  • we want students to be more self directed, 
  • we want students to be active and engaged during teaching sessions (online and/or F2F), not passive, and 
  • as teachers we want to design and facilitate the learning process.
  • If flipping to a workshop model do appropriate teaching spaces exist? If we are stuck with a tiered lecture theatre as a venue my colleague Alan Arnold asks would approaches such as Mazur's Peer Instruction be as effective? http://mazur.harvard.edu/research/detailspage.php?rowid=8
  • How would a workshop be designed such that students could be engaged remotely/online?
  • The meeting raised chunked lectures (5-10 minute topic based recordings) as a way of making sure staff generated lecture content was a) more reusable as opposed to 2 hour monolithic recorded lectures and b) made redoing outdated segments less time consuming.
  • To what extent can online services such as Lynda.com and Smarthinking.com play a role in supporting students knowledge and skills gaps.
  • The purpose and design of the workshops is key to improved learning and engagement.
    • In the case of the discipline above one purpose is to help students acquire skills highly technical skills in finance and accounting units, authentic real world activities will be devised (group and/or individual) and teaching staff will facilitate. These kind of tasks also help students to bridge theory<->practice.
    • Workshops also present a good opportunity to facilitate the learning of higher order thinking skills (see Bloom's Taxonomy).
    • Design Thinking approaches have also been used as a workshop model. This approach usually focuses on a particular subject (e.g. service design, AR, ePortfolios, etc). Examples if they exist are explored and participants devise a problem and solution around the subject. Some examples of the design thinking approach:

Concerns raised:
  • Workload
  • Training of tutors to run workshops
  • Required level of expertise of tutors
  • Role of lecturer

Model for 2014

The following strategies that will underpin the model for 2014 are based on what worked for the pilot and proposed solutions to problems.
  • Development of chunked online videos that cover a range of content e.g lectures, Excel skills, etc. Large topics are recorded in 30 minute parts.
  • Lack of pre-requisite knowledge in students consumed mentor time and compromised the goals of the workshops for other students. Underpinning knowledge required from pre-requisite units needs to be assessed in computer lab tests in week 2 (retest available in week 3).  Online materials/activities provided to help students re-master this content. (e.g. in the case of investments: normal distribution, present value, future value, compounding, interest rate, annuities). (essentially looking at a mastery approach for underpinning knowledge and skills).
  • Focus the workshop design on engaging students in the most difficult concepts and high level skills of the unit, when a mentor is most needed, helping students to master the concepts/skills.
  • Ensure the ratio of mentors to students is appropriate for the task and level of student.
  • This pilot employed what could be summarised as a Model-Do-Resolve-Present-Discuss model based on various other models, theories and taxonomies.
  • Workshop activities, materials, templates, structure need to be streamlined and efficient to make best use of time.

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