The Flipped Classroom

The traditional standard way of teaching in a classroom is a lecture style where the teacher talks and may write notes on the board or they show a PowerPoint presentation of slides. The students are then expected to take notes in class and then study and do problems at home. In a flipped classroom the teacher makes study materials available for the students to study at home and then class time is discussion and hands-on problem solving.

The question may be asked, “Do the students like the flipped classroom model?” In a recent review of the literature (1) it was found that the students still wanted to be lectured to. They did like supplemental materials available but most notably, they wanted time with the instructor to go over problems on-on-one or in small groups. In addition, the Flipped classroom does not work for all subjects and it is a lot of work making the movie resources. You must know the content very well to make the videos and even then they will require editing.

From a teaching point of view you can’t see the students as they are learning so you miss the opportunity to know if they are liking and understanding the content level, or if you are going too fast or too slow. It is helpful that the movies once created can be watch more than once.

Another question would be if students educated in a flipped model perform better. In a three years study of students educated in a flipped classroom they did perform significantly after 3 years of the model (2). After being in the flipped classroom environment for three years the students came to prefer that method of instruction.

At one time teachers hand wrote their notes and if they needed them typed the typing was requested to be done by a department administrative assistant. Today most teachers type and prepare their own materials. Not too long ago to make your own videos was expensive, time consuming, and somewhat complicated. Today the programs and hardware are available at a reasonable price and the techniques are certainly learnable by anyone who can build a PowerPoint show.

I think more courses need prepared and tested in a wider variety of subjects for us to have a better idea of how this new way of education can be utilized.

  1. Bishop, J. L. and Verleger, M. A. The Flipped Classroom: A survey of the Research (2013). American Society for Engineering Education
  2. Weaver, G. C. and Sturtevant H. G. (2015). Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Flipped Format General Chemistry Course. Journal of Chemical Education

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