Online Trig Course Failure Rates Decline from 28% to 4% with Video and Active Learning
Screen Capture from Module 12 – Plotting Polar Coordinates, Dr. Claire Stuve Trigonometry I Course
With more than a thousand students enrolled each semester, trigonometry along with college algebra are the two most heavily populated courses at The University of Toledo. It’s also common to see failure rates higher than 25%. So, when Dr. Claire Stuve, Curriculum Developer and Technology Researcher and Adjunct Professor in the mathematics department was assigned to teach an online trig course, she knew she wanted to take a different approach.
Dr. Stuve created an online flipped classroom using Echo360 to record short instructional videos and uploaded the videos into the LMS where students viewed them. At the end of the semester, grades for Dr. Stuve’s class were higher than any other section. Additionally, the course failure rate declined from 28% to 4%.
“I used Echo360 Personal Capture to create 55 short videos of me solving problems on my iPad. The videos averaged about 5 minutes in length. At first, I thought I made too many. But, my students watched them over and over and asked me to make more. I asked students to post in the class discussion board about the topics on which they were having trouble and I made additional videos covering them. In total, I made 83 videos,” says Stuve.
“Virtual” Flipped Classroom Promotes Collaboration and Real-World Problem Solving
Dr. Stuve’s course was organized into 12 weekly modules containing 3-7 videos each. Students would watch the videos prior to meeting each week in a web conference.
“For online courses in the math department here, we’re required to meet with students synchronously using some type of web conference,” says Stuve. “I didn’t lecture at all during these weekly web sessions,” she adds. “Since the students had already watched the example videos, I assigned them group work solving various problems that illustrated a ‘life application.’ I wanted them to be able to apply what they learned in the video to a real world so they could understand why they were learning it.”
During the weekly web class, Dr. Stuve would virtually “walk around” from group-to-group just as she would have done in a physical classroom. She would check on their work and answer questions that arose. She also recorded the weekly sessions using Echo360 and watched them afterwards to see what students were saying during the online chat. This allowed Dr. Stuve to grade students for their participation each week.
Using Data and Student Questions to Inform Instruction
Dr. Stuve used Echo360 analytics from the supplemental videos she created to modify her instruction. According to Stuve, student video views increased in the week preceding an exam and the videos were often viewed late at night. She also knew that whenever students watched videos multiple times, they may not understand the underlying material.
“Whenever I saw a video with a lot of views, I soon realized that it was probably about a topic with which they were struggling,” she says. “I was then able to address those topics prior to the exam by creating additional videos. For example, they had a really hard time graphing sine, cosine, and tangent. They had an even tougher time graphing reciprocals – secant, cosecant, cotangent. And they had a difficult time writing the equations for graphs. But, I made a series of videos covering these topics and by the time the exam came around they had an excellent grasp of it.”
One Echo360 feature she didn’t expect students to use was the ability to post a question related to something presented on the video. Echo360 lets students take contextual notes linked to class presentations and videos. Students can also post questions or indicate if a specific video or presentation is confusing to them.
“I thought they would just email me with their questions. But when I reflect on it, it’s so much easier for them to post a question the moment they view the video rather than open a separate email and craft a message,” she adds.
Shorter Videos Equal Student Success
Although Dr. Stuve did create some videos longer than 5 minutes, she believes shorter videos are easier for students to digest.
“I always told my students how long each video was. For example, I would say, in this video there are four examples. If you have the hang of it after the first one or two examples, you don’t have to watch the rest.”
However, Stuve says that the analytics were helpful for her to see which students were stopping after the second example and which students watched all the example problems. “If someone had to watch all four examples, it probably meant they didn’t have the hang of it,” Stuve adds.
Dr. Stuve believes the Echo360 videos made for a better student experience.
“I was surprised how much students liked them,” Stuve says. “I think they really helped to make the course successful. Math can be difficult to explain in words or understand by simply reading. My students watched the videos and then could apply what they had learned. I would not have been able to do this without the Echo360 videos.”
Instructional Videos Can Be Easily Reused and Shared
Stuve believes that effort to create, edit, and caption the videos was well worth it. She expects that her videos will be used by other instructors in the math department. The videos will eventually ensure that all students who enroll in Calculus will have mastered the same fundamentals.
“There is no question that it was a lot of work to create this course. But, it will all pay off. We can use the videos again and again, during every semester and they will be viewed very widely,” she says. “Now, all our trig sections (there are 15 this semester) can use the same videos. We also have another course called Pre-Calc, which is one semester of college algebra and trig crammed into one. We get to use the videos for that course too. These are courses taught by other instructors and sometimes graduate students. But, the videos now allow us to be very consistent. Over time, we will know that when students enroll in Calculus they will all have the same background and experience. It puts us all on the same page,” Dr. Stuve concludes.
Learn more about how Echo360’s platform can be easily implemented onto campus.