Principal Investigator Paul Heck’s primary motive was to help his Theo-Humanism students understand the texts they were reading more deeply. More specifically, he wanted to create the situation where his students would think deeply about works, and in particular think more deeply about them in relation to their own concerns. To achieve this goal, Heck, along with graduate student George Archer, recorded mini-lectures and embedded these videos into a course website (see http://www.paulheck.org/theo-humanism-the-course/). By flipping about one quarter of his course and having his students watch the videos online before class, Heck let go of the traditional lecture in the classroom formerly used to explain the texts and instead used that in-class time to facilitate dynamic interdisciplinary connections between the self-knowledge this course cultivates and the real-world questions that students pursue in other courses in politics, economics, the sciences, etc.
Based on interviewing and surveying students, Heck found that the students had a noticeably greater mastery of the course material, in comparison to the previous offering of the class. Students even asked for additional videos covering the remainder of the course material. However, the videos in themselves did not seem to translate into the students making connections to their interests outside the class without the instructor’s intervention. The videos helped the students master the material and provided for time to make connections in class, but on their own were not enough to elicit the integrated student thinking that Heck seeks to encourage in his classes.