CIS 120 Incorporating a New Learning Style

Posted: Tuesday, September 3rd 2013 at 12:24 PM

Intro to Computer Information Systems (CIS 120) is implementing a big change for the fall 2013 semester. Beverly Amer, principal lecturer of accounting and CIS, received a blended learning grant in the spring of 2013 to develop a “flipped learning model” for her classes and what began as a pilot test is now in full operation.

Blended learning refers to a style of teaching which provides a portion of the information online to allow students to review it on their own time and then come to class prepared to discuss the material. “Flipped” classes extend this approach by relying primarily on active in-class engagement techniques, rather than traditional lectures.

This relatively new teaching format incorporates a once-a-week meeting in the classroom with opportunities for out-of-class work where students can get help from teaching assistants (TAs), take advantage of FCB resources, or just work in a quiet environment whenever it best fits their busy schedules. The NAU First Year Learning Initiative (FYLI) program has provided the funding to hire 14 Peer TAs to help CIS 120 faculty break their larger classes into small groups of 20 or so students to provide more individual attention and help with coursework.

There are 13 sections of CIS 120, shared by professors Todd Johnson, Jeff Rhode, Brandon Jones, Jeff Jones, Gavin Zhang, and Beverly Amer. Part of testing the new approach includes a dedicated open computer lab, called the “Tech Lounge,“ for student use and personal assistance, more frequent online quizzing instead of major mid-term exams, and use of online training videos to learn Office 2013 software program skills. The goal is that these changes will show improvement in students’ overall performance in the class as well as their retention of the information to be learned, all in an environment that meets the learning style of today's students.


Blended Learning is an important direction for NAU because it is enhancing student learning and utilizing technology in beneficial ways. Inside NAU TV covered blended learning and featured a segment on Rick Szal's approach and classroom experience [Season 8, episode 3: 3:18-5:00 in the segment]:



Categories: cis 120 fall 2013 beverly amer todd johnson jeff rhode brandon jones jeff jones gavin zhang blended learning