COMPARING THE PERFORMANCE AND MOTIVATION OF STUDENTS IN TECHNICAL DEGREES UNDER DIFFERENT TEACHING STRATEGIES: MOOC, FLIPPED CLASSROOM AND TRADITIONAL IN-PERSON CLASSES
In the last ten years, many different teaching methodologies for higher education have been proposed. From flipped classroom to service-learning approaches. The final objective of all these proposals is to take advantage as much as possible of the in-person classes and discussions with professors.
In traditional in-person classes professors display both, practical and theoretical contents, while students must develop their projects and other evaluation activities. As a result, invested time into individual technical discussion between students and professors is limited and conditioned by theoretical explanations. In order to address this problem, flipped classroom methodologies were proposed. In those strategies, theoretical contents are explained through short videos which are distributed among students before in-person classes. Thus, students may consume those contents at home and, later, employ the in-person classes to discuss with professors and develop their practical projects. However, evaluating low-level Bloom’s taxonomy competencies may be difficult as students are consuming videos alone. Then, test and other similar evaluation tools are essential in flipped classroom methodologies. This scheme, now, is very similar to most common MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) courses, where videos and evaluation tests are put together to create a formative itinerate. That is why, recently, some initiatives to teach through MOOC courses have been reported.
Initially, all these approaches reported very good results, but informal observations show some inefficiencies. As time passes, students’ motivation and academic results are lightly decreasing; and MOOC courses are reporting worse results than flipped classroom in many contexts. Specially in technical degrees such as geomatics or computer engineering. However, in order to clarify this situation, more formal and scientific analysis are needed.
Therefore, during the first term of the year 2020/21 in the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, a pilot experience has been conducted. In this context, subjects focused on VHDL programming and design were organized as follows. Three different groups were defined. The first one followed a teaching methodology based on in-person classes. The second one followed a methodology based on flipped classroom. And the final and third group followed a methodology based on MOOC courses.
During this experience, all groups worked the same competencies and topics, from VHDL fundamentals to design and validation techniques. All students had to develop a global final project, where all the acquired competencies should be showed and employed. After finishing the teaching period, all students answered a survey to evaluate their satisfaction and motivation. Academic results were also compared and analyzed.
Results showed that, although students value the creation of educational videos and flipped-classroom methodologies, MOOC courses do not fit their requirements and, then, their motivation and academic results tend to be lower and similar to results associated to traditional in-person methodologies. These results, besides, can be widely generalized as the students’ profile in our pilot group is similar to the profile that we can find in computer engineering degrees supported by other universities (Spanish and international). A formal analysis of the validity threats supports this idea.