F7-AL4-1 - Flipping a Computational Modeling Class: Strategies to Engage Students and Foster Active Learning

1. Innovative Practice Work In Progress
Juan Ortega-Alvarez1 , Camilo Vieira2, Nicolas Guarin-Zapata1, Juan Gomez1
1 Universidad EAFIT
2 Universidad del Norte

This work-in-progress, innovative practice paper examines the implementation and preliminary results of a flipped classroom strategy in a Computational Modeling undergraduate course at a Colombian midsize university. Previous work has discussed the potential of flipped classrooms to leverage active learning through the use of videos and other computer-based tools that encourage students to explore course content autonomously. This study explores how the tools and tactics used in the course, namely out-of-class readings and Jupyter notebooks, can be effective to engage students and foster learning. To that aim, the final study will compare the changes in perceptions and performance of two classes (Fall 2019 and Spring 2020) before and after students take the course. The perceptions part of the instrument focuses on students’ self-efficacy and interest about programming. On the other hand, the performance part of the instrument asks students to explain simple programs by examining the code. 

While some educational researchers posit that flipping the classroom is predicated on the use of videos to deliver the content, we maintain that outside-of-class readings, often enhanced with interactive content, can also promote the benefits of a flipped classroom. Preliminary results suggest that such a flipped format is effective to increase students' self-efficacy regarding programming tasks, particularly within students interested in this topic. These perception results align well with performance results, which suggest that after the course students are more likely to try solving the programming problems and provide answers, yet not always correct answers. The authors expect to find that flipping the classroom works best to promote learning and positive attitudes towards the content when students are presented the rationale and aims of the strategy from the onset. In addition, anecdotal information indicates that the instructors also experience a learning curve that allows them to feel better prepared and become more confident to flip their classes.