Eliminating Writer’s Block: Flipped Classroom Meets ThinkSpace

Bender, Holly
Johnson, Janet
Wolff, Maren
Pritchard, Samantha
Johnson, Janet
Bender, Holly
Madeka, Kajal
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ThinkSpace and Open TBL
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ThinkSpace and Open TBL

This video interview elaborates the methodology that was presented at a Poster session at the Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo at Chicago, Oct 21 - 24, 2017.

Background: Students find writing the personal statement to be a challenging and anxiety-producing aspect of the internship application. We previously implemented Flipped Classroom and small group learning approaches into the Foundations of Dietetics course. While these strategies facilitated peer feedback on personal statements, students lacked a structured system for providing comments and were limited with in-class time to provide feedback.

Methods: Using ThinkSpace, a web-based active learning tool, students completed guided reflections in class. Students were not aware that the reflections were components of the first draft of the personal statement, helping create a low-risk writing environment. The peer review feature of ThinkSpace allows students to upload a draft and receive comments from peers. Students then participated in an in-class team Writer’s Workshop to discuss peer critiques.

Results: Since the introduction of groups in 2014 and ThinkSpace in 2016, course evaluations have shown improvement. The mean score for “Overall, this course has been effective in advancing my learning” increased significantly from 2014-2015. Additionally, across student evaluation scores in 2015 and 2016, there was statistically more agreement that learning had been improved.

Conclusion: ThinkSpace can advance teaching how to write a personal statement by allowing practice and feedback to occur outside the classroom. Improved course evaluations from 2014 to 2015 coincide with the use of small groups, indicating implementation was effective in enhancing student learning. Finally, ThinkSpace, in conjunction with groups, allows faculty to maximize student engagement by increasing the value of peer feedback and facilitate an active learning environment.


The Poster session was interactive and was accompanied by a short 2 min video summarizing the entire process designed in ThinkSpace