Maximizing learning in online courses using critical thinking, project-based learning, and flipped classroom approaches
Main Article Content
Introduction: In this article, we present our findings regarding the lessons learned by using critical thinking, project-based learning, and flipped classroom educational approaches in an online course. The course, "Systems Thinking," was delivered to 20 graduate students during the Covid pandemic, in the second semester of 2020. The students worked in project teams to create short videos that analyzed the dynamics present in different real-life systems. The objective is to determine the effects of combining critical thinking, project-based learning, and flipped classrooms to maximize learning.
Methods: We followed a convergent parallel mixed-method approach. The quantitative data was collected through two multiple-choice tests (pre-test and a post-test). The qualitative data was collected from students' discussion forums and students' projects. We also collected data employing one questionnaire sent at the end of the course. The data were analyzed following a systemic approach.
Results: The course design led to the development of five interconnected dynamics that favored the learning. The flipped classroom made the synchronous meetings more effective. The way the synchronous meetings were conducted (using different learning tools, tests as extrinsic motivators, and praising the students' achievements) kept the students motivated to learn. The discussion forum fostered critical thinking and the project-based learning approach gave opportunities to the students to learn by doing.
Conclusions: The combination of critical thinking, project-based learning, and flipped classroom can be a very effective way of enhancing the learning experience in online courses.
Keywords: critical thinking, project-based learning, flipped classroom, systems thinking, learning