Reverse class in science: autonomy and innovative assessment

Marie-Élaine Jobin is a secondary 5 chemistry teacher at Collège Nouvelles Frontières. Since the beginning of the school year, she has been using the flipped classroom with her two groups. She presented her approach at the last AQUOPS conference, including her inspiring evaluation method. Workshop report.

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Marie-Élaine Jobin is a 5 year chemistry teachere secondary school at the Collège Nouvelles Frontières. Since the beginning of the school year, she has been using the flipped classroom with her two groups. She presented her approach at the last AQUOPS conference, including her inspiring evaluation method. Workshop report.

The flipped classroom aims to reverse the more traditional approach to teaching. The flipped classroom approach allows students to explore theory at their own pace at home and to reserve class time for subject integration activities, where the teacher becomes more free to guide and teach. '' interact directly with young people when they need it in their learning. In short, the theory is seen at home and the applied work is done in the classroom.

Marie-Elaine Jobin considers that the flipped class applies well to the content of the chemistry course. However, she would not choose a reverse 100 % formula with her environmental science and technology group in 4.e secondary, because she finds that it adapts less well.


One of the first challenges Ms. Jobin noted regarding the flipped classroom is that the students initially have a lot of difficulty managing their time well. However, most have managed to adapt well and are now much more independent. They are therefore better prepared in this regard for their transition to CEGEP. In general, the principle of the inverted classroom is more difficult for "lazy" students, because they must necessarily invest and commit themselves to succeed. In addition, some parents may be resistant to such a change. Some people think the teacher is lazy and doesn't want to teach anymore. We must then convince them of the benefits of this approach.


His advices
For teachers who would like to try the flipped classroom, Ms. Jobin suggests preparing short videos explaining the theory (about 3 minutes). In addition, she suggests giving students detailed planning in advance. This will help them know where they are at and what to do next. It is also necessary to provide for rules that will be clearly explained to the students as well as consequences for those who do not respect them. At the same time, you have to listen to students to reassure them when they are worried and motivate them when they are disengaged.


Video creation
To create her videos, Ms. Jobin uses the software Keynote for visual support, as well as ScreenFlow to record what is happening on his computer screen, as well as the narration. It then publishes the result on his Youtube channel. The teacher specifies that this is her own way of doing things, but that there are other alternatives. To each his own!

She then shares her videos on the platform Didacti as well as on top his class blog. Students mainly use Didacti, but his blog allows him to help out in case of difficulty. Thus, the students cannot have excuses, as it is possible to find the videos in two separate places.

See here a example of video capsule produced by Ms. Jobin.


An adapted assessment

Marie-Élaine Jobin also decided to completely review her evaluation method. With the flipped class, she noticed that some students were faster, while others were slower. To allow everyone to learn at their own pace, she decided to increase the frequency of assessments and only give students mini-tests. There are no more "big reviews". The teacher preferred to sequence the concepts to do several evaluations. Thus, certain periods in class are reserved for taking the mini-tests, but it is the students themselves who must register if they feel ready. The teacher still suggests that the students plan for taking the tests to avoid delays or being too far ahead. She also offers her students the opportunity to retake a test that was not successful. On the other hand, in the second test, the pupils cannot obtain more than 75 %. In the third test, students cannot obtain more than 60 %. This constraint makes it possible to make up for it in the event of failure, without being at an advantage over the students who would have performed well on their first attempt.

The first advantage of this evaluation is that it does not emphasize the punitive aspect of more traditional evaluations. Indeed, in a more traditional assessment, a student who fails an exam does not generally return to the subject that he has not understood well and goes directly to the next exam without fully understanding the preliminary concepts. A student who fails an exam is therefore behind schedule for the next exam.

The evaluation method proposed by Ms. Jobin does not aim to measure a student's understanding of a notion at a specific time, but rather to demonstrate that the student has properly assimilated this notion at a time in the year ( within a reasonable time). This change in assessment resulted in students regularly reviewing their corrected assessments to understand their mistakes.

Another advantage of this method is that it allows to adapt to the progress of each student. In a more traditional assessment, a student who is far ahead of the subject would have to go back to prepare for the exam. In the new assessment method, he can be assessed on the subject he has just assimilated at the time he chooses. Ultimately, this method of assessment leaves a glimmer of hope for struggling students who can see their efforts rewarded. Failure is therefore much less discouraging, since students have the chance to make up for it. A disadvantage of this method is that it is much more demanding on the teacher, who must create multiple versions of the same assessment and who must manage the different progress of each student.


COOP program
The COOP program is an initiative of Marie-Élaine Jobin to motivate faster students ahead of the subject. This program is accessible to students under three conditions. First, they must complete all exercises at least two days before the date of the assessment. Subsequently, they must pass a mini-test covering all of the material seen in the chapter. Finally, they must help the other students in a meaningful way. A student who meets all of these criteria can then be part of the COOP program and receive a bonus of 4 % on their assessment. Students in this program are then recognized as classroom helpers and are assigned study groups that they meet in class as needed. Study groups are made up of students at risk of failure or of students who wish to be part of a study group. The COOP students are in a way the pillars of the class and are a precious help for the teacher.

Several positive points emerged from this program. First of all, it goes a long way in motivating students who learn faster than others. In addition, the teacher noticed that the students are much more interested in being part of this program for the status it provides and to be able to help other students than to obtain a bonus for their assessment. It is a great responsibility for them and they take their status as caregivers very seriously. These students go so far as to revise their course notes in order to be well prepared for any questions that may be asked of them by other students. The student helpers also mentioned that they have a better command of the material since they have to explain it to others. In addition to being beneficial for COOP students, this program also benefits the whole class. Indeed, some students who are more timid at the idea of asking questions to the teacher turn a lot to the COOP students for help. The students in the study groups also mentioned that these periods of mutual assistance with a COOP student were very useful to them. Finally, the students testified that this program helped to break the stereotype of “boozy” students who work alone in their corner and encouraged social interactions between students who would probably not have talked to each other otherwise.


A very promising record
On the whole, Ms. Jobin's assessment of her flipped classroom experience is very promising. Students are much more autonomous in their learning and in their time management. In addition, they are much more aware that they are responsible for their success or failure. She compared these results with those of the previous year and observed that there were 13 % fewer failures in her current groups and that the overall average was very slightly higher. Although these observations do not lead to the conclusion that the results are entirely attributable to the inverted class, they at least demonstrate that the results are not inferior to previous years. This argument can therefore be used to reassure parents who are resistant to this educational approach. Finally, the skills acquired by the students in the course of the course go beyond simple knowledge of chemistry and can be useful to them in other spheres of their life.


By Mathieu Arsenault and Julie Rivard (@julierivard), JournalisTIC program

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From April 15 to 17 was held in Quebec on the 32e colloquiumAQUOPS. On site, teaching students from Laval University attended various workshops and gave their impressions. on the blog from the Association. We will have the opportunity to present some of their reports to you over the next few weeks.

The students of the JournalisTIC project study with professors René Fountain and Margarida Romero or with the lecturer Patrick Plante in the integration of ICT in teaching. "The purpose of their participation in the congress was to understand ICT, their rules of play, their applications and their impacts in order to better use them and integrate them later in their educational approaches", explains Suzanne Dansereau, responsible for this initiative within AQUOPS.

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