Traditional teaching methods are often based on transmitting concepts through frontal lectures. Such strategy is strongly focused on teaching technical skills rather than promoting the development of personal and social competences. To maximize the development of high order skills, teaching instructors must establish a cooperative learning environment by getting closer to the students and encourage freedom instead of conformity. Students must not be seen as mere observers of the world but as agents capable of understanding and transforming our environment. One of the measures that we introduced in our course to favor collective behavior among the students consisted in replacing typical individual assessments by an evaluation of the performance at the classroom level.
Developing personal and social competences through collective grading
In this course, we employed the collective grading approach to assess the performance of the classroom in a series of flipped-classroom activities. To prepare the students for the in-class assignment, the teaching instructor shared 4-5 slides containing key figures and plots extracted from the selected reading materials. Slides and reading materials were shared through the Moodle platform one week before the in-class assignment. Students are asked to study the selected material and prepare themselves to present the slides in the next class. At the day of the assignment, students that are attending the class are invited to join the flipped-classroom by signing up with their names on a list before the class starts. A period of 10 minutes is allocated at the beginning of the class for peer-discussion, which is followed by the selection of 2 presenters by drawing lots. An additional time of 5 minutes is provided to the selected students to coordinate the presentation. Presentation lasts a maximum of 15 minutes and is used as a strategy to prepare the students for the in-class discussion. When the presentation is concluded, the discussion starts and the students are encouraged to ask questions to the presenters. This final part lasts about 15 minutes and the teaching instructors make sure that important topics are discussed. All students are encouraged to ask questions and complement the answers of their colleagues so that the collective behavior is promoted. At the end of the class, the collective performance is discussed with the teaching assistant and the grade is issued based on the learning objectives of the course. Students are also asked to self-assess their collective performance at the end of the lecture. To stimulate a critical self-assessment, we offer a bonus of 0.25 in the collective grade if the average of their individual assessments of the performance is within ±0.25 of the grade assigned by the teaching instructors.
Communication about expectations for the collective performance assessment
The open communication channels established with the students and the extensive communication about expectations for the collective performance assessment has strongly engaged the students in the learning process. In addition to the discussion in the classroom, students often stayed extra-curricular hours and were strongly engaged in helping their colleagues throughout the learning process. The strong cooperativity among students and their enthusiasm to participate in the discussion might be considered as a direct effect of the collective behavior promoted by the type of assessment employed in the active learning activity. Therefore, we consider these subjective parameters as a qualitative measure of the level of motivation that the students have experienced due to the novel format of the performance assessment. In addition to the informal feedback provided by students throughout the course, the teaching instructors offered an anonymous feedback form on the Moodle platform. We have observed that the students have been eager to collaborate and provide constructive feedback through the platform on the format of the performance assessment. The anonymous feedback collected in the Moddle platform was surprisingly positive regarding the format of the flipped-classroom and the collective performance assessment. In general, students pointed that the method employed led to a more efficient learning process. In addition to the feedback obtained from the students, the teaching instructors believe that the method triggered a more collective behavior in the classroom, where students are cooperating in creating the knowledge rather than competing with each other to obtain the highest grade. Specific questions and other assessment methods must be implemented to obtain reliable information about the effectiveness of the collective grading in the learning process.
- Send reading material and slides to students one week before the flipped-classroom activity;
- Ask students to be prepared to present the slides in the next classroom;
- Ask students to sign up in the activity by putting their names on the flipped-classroom list;
- Assign 10 minutes at the beginning of the class for peer-discussion about the topic;
- Select two presenters by drawing two names from the list. Assign an additional 5 minutes to allow the presenters to define the details of the presentation;
- The regular lecture begins and the presenters are called when the assigned slides are shown on the screen;
- The presentation lasts between 10-15 minutes;
- After the presentation, the discussion is open to the entire classroom;
- Ask students to perform an anonymous self-assessment of the classroom performance by placing the grade into a closed ballot;
- Discuss the performance of the classroom with the teaching assistant and issue a collective grade based on the performance of the entire classroom;
- Reveal the collective grade and the average of the self-assessment in the next class and give feedback to the students about the classroom performance.
Teaching instructor prepare 3-5 slides containing material related to the course. The material and slides are shared with the students through the moodle platform. Teaching instructors prepare a list with the important concepts to help them guiding the discussion throughout the flipped-classroom activity.
Teaching instructors discuss the performance of the classroom and issue a collective grade. Students are asked to self-assess the performance of the classroom by placing the grade into a closed ballot.
- Bio-Inspired Active and Adaptive Materials
- This course offers a comprehensive description of the molecular mechanisms that are at the origin of the functions carried out by complex out-of-equilibrium materials systems in living organisms. Through discussions, we will demonstrate strategies of implementing such molecular-based vital functions found in biological systems into synthetic materials.
- By the end of this course, students will be able to correlate dissipative molecular mechanisms with active and interactive functions found in living organisms. They will be able to apply and integrate key out-of-equilibrium concepts towards functional active and adaptive devices and material systems.
- MSc and PhD
- Lecture focused on active learning
- up to15 students
- Materials Science, Chemistry, Interdisciplinary Sciences and Food Sciences
- Elective course offered by MSc program in the Materials Science department
- Teaching Power:
- Flipped-classrooms with collective grading and semester project in groups of 2-3 students