Hybrid approach to Intro Finance

The course I am converting to hybrid delivery is the introductory course that most business majors and minors are required to take. This class has typically been taught in sections of about 180 students with smaller, accompanying recitation sessions. It has historically been a source of apprehension for most students and not-sought-after by instructors. The material entails vocabulary, concepts, and mathematics that are entirely new to many students. Student performance on exams varies greatly within a given class; Some students will get 100% on the same exam on which a couple of their classmates are dangerously-near the expected result of random guessing. As a result, some students are bored with what they see as the slow, remedial introduction of the material that is simultaneously overwhelming others with its relentless pace and complexity. Teacher evaluations for this course have historically been far below the college and university averages.

The college of business recently began offering this course in sections of 65 students with no recitation session. My plan is to take advantage of this smaller class size to hybridize the delivery, flip the classroom, and change the focus from individual to group work. My reasoning is that students can more easily sort out the variance in their individual ability in this format. Students who require more time and exposure can reread/re-watch the material on their own time without the perceived social cost of slowing down (or dumbing down) a large lecture. Through group discussion and in-class problem solving and case work, students can help each other understand difficult concepts with an efficiency that a single instructor can’t replicate. My efforts in class can be focused on those groups that are unable to complete the work unaided. I anticipate that the class will meet once per week for 1 hour and 50 minutes on either Wednesday or Thursday.

I have begun to test my plan this term and last by instituting groups and by mostly flipping the classroom. The results have been encouraging. In assessments at the middle and the end of last term, students indicated that the course exceeded their expectations in just about every way. Grades in the course were also unexpectedly high. I attribute part of this to increased learning, but most of it to improper calibration on my part. Surprisingly, despite the high grades and general contentment with the course, the SET scores were lower than my most recent scores when teaching the larger sections in the old way. I hope this will improve as my delivery of the new course gains more polish.

The one area in which students were generally dissatisfied last term was the online discussions. This term I am integrating online discussion with class discussion. Students will respond to reading prompts online in posts visible only to their group. But the associated discussion of their answers now takes place in class.

The major steps required to deliver the course as a hybrid are to create the online video and audio content, and to adapt some of the current in-class work to online. The basic flow that I envision for the students is as follows:

  1. Read assigned material
  2. Watch/listen to instructional material online
    • segments of 3-10 minutes
    • some concept explanations
    • some tactical/procedural explanations
  3. Complete basic problem sets or projects individually online
  4. Respond to discussion prompts online
  5. Take small reading-comprehension quizzes in class
  6. Group discussion of responses to prompts in class
  7. Instructor review of last week’s group work
  8. Instructor review of this week’s individual work
  9. Group mini case or problem set completed in class
  10. Reflect on in-class group work online
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