Friday, April 18, 2014

Suggestions for Flipping the Science Lab

Here are some suggestions for managing labs in a flipped science course.  

1) Labcast video
Students should complete a pre-lab activity. At the very least, students should watch a labcast describing the experiment, lab safety concerns and demonstration of frequently confused portions of the lab procedure. The labcast video will save the teacher so much time by minimizing the usual clarification questions and giving students the opportunity to learn about the lab outside of precious class time. 

Example of a Labcast

2) Google Form for data collection:
If you are combining data from multiple groups, definitely use a Google form. Make sure students do not include the units because the spreadsheet will be unable to perform calculations. 

Sample Data Form

Consider whether you want to include required questions. Required questions defend against blank data entries. However, if there are legitimate reasons for skipping trials, then students will be unable to submit their data until you change that option. 

Finally consider adding an identifier question like student name or group number. If students make a mistake submitting data, you will need to identify and delete this data. (I had to learn this the hard way, notice the image above violates this suggestion!)

3) Publishing data
Add sheets to the Google form responses spreadsheet. You can use the array formula to send updated data from the responses to a calculation sheet. The calculation sheet can calculate and automatically update the mean, standard deviation, confidence intervals, etcetera. You can use array formula one more time to send the calculations to a published data sheet.

 Multiple sheets for calculations & data publication

The neat thing about Google spreadsheets is the option to publish just one sheet. I typically publish one final sheet and share the link with students.

Published Data

This workflow has been successful in my class. In most cases, students seamlessly move from different steps in the learning cycle to labs without much interruption of other students. The struggle I have with labs is more global and related to running an asynchronous flipped course, rather than merely a flipped course.