Flipped Classroom Components for Math 104 and Math 184

TitleFlipped Classroom Components for Math 104 and Math 184
Duration2 Year
Project Summary

This project integrated flipped classroom components in two courses, Differential Calculus with Applications to Commerce and Social Sciences (Math 104 and 184) so that students could spend more time in class doing mathematics rather than observing mathematics being done. The instructors developed resources for increasing students’ in-class engagement in order to improve their conceptual understanding of calculus. At the same time, the instructors designed opportunities for students to master computational skills and receive timely feedback on their work outside of class time through virtual office hours. A small-scale pilot in MATH 104 was delivered in September 2013 and the full course roll-out for MATH 104 and 184 occurred in September 2014.

Funding Details
Year 1: Project YearYear 1
Year 1: Funding Year2013/2014
Year 1: Project TypeLarge TLEF
Year 1: Principal InvestigatorMark MacLean
Year 1: Funded Amount98,017
Year 1: Team Members

Mark MacLean, Instructor, Mathematics, Faculty of Science
Mahta Khosravi, Assistant Professor, Mathematics, Faculty of Science
Ed Richmond, Post-doc / Teaching and Learning Fellow
Warren Code, Associate Director, Skylight
Hailan Chen, Instructional Designer, Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology
Linda Chen, Undergraduate Student
Andrei Burlacu, Undergraduate Student
Maxime Bergeron, Graduate Student, Mathematics

Year 1: TLEF ShowcaseYear 1: TLEF Showcase
Project ReportReport-2013-FL-MacLean-WEB.pdf
Project Outcomes

Products & achievements: Student Guide for Math 104/184; Instructor Guide for Math 104/184; Classroom activities, including clickers questions, and related items for posting on the web for outside of class (http://blogs.ubc.ca/mathstudentguide104/ and http://www.math.ubc.ca/~cwsei/math104.html).

Intended outcomes/themes:

  1. Student Guide: A question that was not part of the original proposal but was identified as an important focus/subgoal early on: How do you coach students to be successful in the course? A student guide was developed by a pair of students who had recently taken the course in order for it to speak directly to students and give them guidance on how to succeed in Math 104. The guide consists of a UBC Blog space that pulls content from the UBC Wiki.  This arrangement was chosen so that the content of the guide can be updated by anyone with a CWL; in particular, future students in the course could continue to build this up as a resource.
  2. Instructor Guide: As there are new instructors to the course every year, and many of them have limited teaching experience, an instructor guide was developed to give some basis for them to approach the course’s content, which has the additional challenge of containing business-related content that is not part of most mathematicians’ training. The guide consists of a UBC Blog space that contains a series of outlines/summaries of topics accompanied by scanned lecture notes (a clear set from a particular instructor) sorted by major topic in the course. These are provided as PDF documents for two reasons: the notes can be downloaded in a portable format, and instructors can use MIT’s NB annotation system to add comments overlaid on the documents, thereby turning them into conversations and to provide further insight and ideas for future instructors.
  3. Classroom Activities: In order to boost the level of active learning in a relatively low-effort manner for instructors (especially those new to the course), classroom activities were developed to expand the existing activities developed as part of the CWSEI with this course. These are intended to promote deeper learning of concepts by students by having them engage more actively with the material during class time.

Evaluation approach: The scheduling issues for team members in this project significantly hampered evaluation efforts.  As things did not advance enough during the Teaching & Learning Fellow’s time with the project (the first year), data collection was limited: some student attitude data was collected, but there nothing clear to compare it with in a subsequent year; focus groups received too many cancellations and were not feasible at later dates. As a result, evaluation so far has been limited.

  • In development, feedback was provided regarding the online resources by the instructional designers and Cindy Underhill of CTLT.
  • In deployment, limited to conversations with course leaders about their extent of introducing the new resources into the course (minimal in 2015W, which coincided with a new Instructor-In-Charge to the course; remains to be seen for 2016W).

Findings: Overall lessons were learned; work undertaken in this project re-emphasized the importance of resources for students and instructors (especially novice instructors) and provided some ideas around what could be effective for such support.

Student Guide: The guide was not updated during the 2015W offering of the course. The level of student usage is not clear.

Instructor Guide: While the content is available in PDFs, the annotation software is clunky and significant uptake/use of this feature is not recommended; in the time since this was deployed, new annotation software has arisen (e.g. https://hypothes.is/ and https://perusall.com/) but it was not in scope to update the software in this project.

Classroom Activities: Some discussion with upcoming year’s Instructor-In-Charge of the course about the ideas and developed items. The PI would use materials again when back teaching the course. Main finding: there is growing interest among those teaching, including those new to teaching, in being more interactive in the classroom, and there is a need to provide people with examples. There is value in having people learning about effective practices and making them their own, doing part of the work of integrating provided questions, tasks, and lesson plans.

Online Office Hours: Blackboard was largely unavailable in the anticipated pilot term (fall 2013). A small pilot was later attempted, but the PI was not able to revisit this in later terms due to limited time/availability.


FL Open House Poster Session, 2014.

Sustainability: Met with new Instructor-In-Charge of the course, Shawn Desaulniers, to discuss offerings in Fall (Sept-Dec 2016).  The guides will be made available for the instructors and students.

Department website is undergoing restructuring, will have much higher visibility of teaching and learning projects and their products in the near future.  The CWSEI Course Materials Archive (sei.ubc.ca) is also undergoing a migration to a more stable, usable platform, and is anticipated as a natural home for the developed materials as they will complement the existing set from CWSEI projects in the course.

However, as there are a high number of novice instructors in this course, support them is a significant effort and the provision of these materials is only one aspect of such support.  The department has continued to offer Instructional Skills Workshops within the department (though these are not taken by every new instructor to the department) that permit some time to discussed specific issues in teaching mathematics, with the topic typically being calculus.