Flipping your class? Embed some assessment in the lectures

Akshat Rathi at Ars Technica reports on a recent study considering how to improve student learning in online lectures:

Karl Szpunar, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard University, might have a rather simple solution to rein in distractions, one that focuses attention in real-world classrooms: intersperse pop quizzes into the online lectures. …

In [his] first experiment, he divided a 21-minute lecture into four segments. After each segment, he asked half the students (the tested group) to perform arithmetic tests followed by tests on the subject matter of the lecture. The other half (the non-tested group) just performed arithmetic tests after each segment and took a subject matter test at the end of the lecture.

A second experiment was performed to get some data on mind-wandering during lectures. There was also an additional group (a restudy group) in which students were interrupted with questions and answers about each segment and tested only after the fourth segment.

Although the findings are only preliminary at this point, based on just 80 students, Szpunar plans to expand his research to bigger classes in the future.  The full article ($) is online at the PNAS website.