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Journal of Chemical Education

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Chemistry -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- Research, Chemistry -- Curriculum -- Assessment, Group work in education, Student-centered learning


Since 2013, the number of publications on flipped learning within chemistry have steadily increased. However, most of these studies focus on flipped course reforms within individual institutions, while the outcomes of any learning environment are dependent on how the environment is structured and the degree to which students interact with its elements. In this study, we apply a coordinated set of assessment practices to investigate similarities among flipped chemistry courses at five institutions in the United States. All courses in the study followed the two basic tenets of flipped learning: (1) foundational information was delivered through preclass materials (PCMs), and (2) the face-to-face (F2F) environment applied or extended the content through active learning. Each F2F environment was characterized using video recordings analyzed with the Classroom Observation Protocol in Undergraduate STEM (COPUS) tool. Each individual course showed consistent use of F2F time across each session recording; however, there were significant differences in the predominant student behaviors between courses. Student behavior in two of the courses (Courses Four and Five) was dominated by work in small-groups on problem-solving worksheets, in contrast to another course (Course One) where responding to whole-class questioning posed by the instructor dominated students’ behaviors. While behaviors in the two remaining courses (Courses Two and Three) included a mix of responding to clicker and whole-class questions, one of them (Course Three) also included large episodes of students simply listening during instructor presentation of material. A midsemester survey was administered in each course to characterize students’ interactions with, and perceptions of, the PCMs. Of particular note, student self-reports of the number of videos viewed and the timing of viewing trended with the amount of peer-to-peer interaction during F2F sessions. That is, students in courses with more consistent groupwork reported watching more of the video content and doing so before the F2F session. These results demonstrate that flipped classrooms can take many forms and suggest that F2F structure may create non-grade-based incentives for PCM utilization.


Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.

This is the author’s version of a work that was subsequently published in The Journal of Chemical Education. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in The Journal of Chemical Education, 2020, 97, 3490-3505, and can be found online at:



Persistent Identifier

Supporting Information.docx (233 kB)
COPUS code descriptions, F2F observation summaries, COPUS timelines, survey development details, and supplementary survey item data tables