Comparison of Student Performance in Bio110 (The Cell) at UC Merced: to Flip or not
Bio110 “The Cell” is the first upper division biology course taken by most Biology and Bioengineering students at UC Merced. It is a pre-requisite for most upper division biology courses in four of the five biology-emphasis tracks (Human Biology, Molecular and Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, and Microbiology & Immunology). This study evaluates and compares student performance in two Bio110 courses at UC Merced. One class (taught Spring 2013) was delivered using traditional didactic lecturing methods. The other two courses (taught in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015) were delivered using active learning and flipped methods. We hypothesized that flipping the class and using active learning methods would result in increased student performance when compared to the traditionally taught class. In all classes, student performance was assesses by three midterms and a final exam, as well as quizzes, class participation and lab reports. Our data shows that students in the flipped classrooms outperformed a similar cohort of students in a class taught in the traditional Socratic method. Their exam performance started about the same, but by the end of the class, the students in the flipped classroom had up to a 15% increase in exam scores than the students in the standard class. Student participation, quiz scores and lab scores did not differ between the flipped classroom and the standard classroom. In class evaluations, students expressed overwhelming positive responses to the flipped lecture class. The flipped classroom changed the dynamics of the classroom, making it better for both faculty and students. In conclusion, the active learning and flipped classroom benefited the students in Bio110, increasing their performance in the course.