Introducing Students to the Flipped Classroom

laptop personActive learning is an effective teaching approach but limits class time needed to present content especially in biomedical science courses. Students in this digital age are drawn to digital modes of learning more so than assigned printed text reading. YouTube’s success is clear evidence of this, but given the vast array of available resources, the reliability and application of this information presents a new challenge. Educators either guide students in seeking effective information or provide directed audiovisual resources appropriate for their course content. With advances in technology, deciphering lectures has become easier. All of these elements have led to the Flipped Classroom, a new teaching approach. A few years ago, it seemed like educators were learning the definition of the Flipped Classroom, but today, those same educators are engaged in discovering how to adapt this method of teaching into their own coursework.

The Flipped Classroom approach allows instructors to offer more time in the classroom to work on difficult concepts by moving some of the basic concepts out of the class period.   Students must learn these concepts prior to the face-to-face class. This gives ample time in class to devote to more complex concepts and to engage students in active learning whether it be problem solving in teams or a variety of assessments.

However, this new teaching approach may pose new challenges for students and educators alike. For those students not accustomed to preparing ahead for class Flipped Classroom may require modifications in their study habits and schedules. When I first applied the Flipped Classroom approach in my classroom last year, my students were initially surprised and reluctant.  Gradually, however, the number of students watching the Flipped videos prior to class increased and students quickly became accustomed to the habit of preparing in advance and participating in the in-class learning exercises.  End-of-year evaluations indicated that two-thirds of the class had changed the way they studied for this class.  Now in the midst of its second year in my classroom, the Flipped Classroom has become a vital part of my students’ education.  As awareness of this teaching modality has increased, students now express great interest in this teaching style and report high satisfaction with the videos and in-class exercises. As more and more educators utilize this methodology, I have no doubt that students will embrace this learning style along with their traditional lectures and readings to further augment their learning experience.

In the era of easy lecture-recording, many educators struggle with diminishing classroom attendance.  Although designed to help students review lectures for clarification or exam preparation, lecture recording often encourages students to watch lectures from home at their own pace, thereby leading to poor class attendance and less student-teacher interaction. In this way, the Flipped Classroom methodology aims to eliminate this problem by reinventing the classroom experience as one of furthering content, brainstorming and problem-solving via interaction among peers and instructors.

New educators need to be exposed to novel teaching methodologies such as the Flipped Classroom and need to be given resources and training to help them not only to become better teachers but also to inspire students and ignite their quest for knowledge.

 

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Chaya Gopalan earned her PhD in Medical Physiology from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Besides teaching Introductory and Advanced Physiology courses at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, she is interested in the impact of newer modalities in teaching and their effect on student performance. She is also involved in the study of the role of gonadal steroids on sexual differentiation of the brain.

7 thoughts on “Introducing Students to the Flipped Classroom”

It’s really exciting to see that your students embraced the flipped classroom so quickly! I’ve experimented with flipping my classroom but still feel like I’m refining it to make it most useful for my students.

Thanks for the post, Chaya. I’m not sure I’m ready to record my lectures, but I’m going to use focussed pre-readings and quizzes prior to the relevant lecture to maximize the time for active learning activities in the classroom.

    It’s a good place to start!

Chaya I enjoyed reading about your positive experience with Flipped Classrooms. I still need to make the leap and try this approach. When you decided to Flip your classroom the first time did you do this for the entire semester? I think I might try one or two lectures in the spring to get my feet wet. I would be curious to hear if others tried this approach and how it worked.

    The first time I tried, it was for about a third of the semester.

Thank you for your post, Chaya, and the others who have commented. I do not use the flipped classroom approach for straightforward material as other delivery modes can be faster but rather use it for material that involves traditionally hard to understand concepts – especially ones for which a simplistic understanding could lead to misconceptions. Also, no need to record a whole lecture. I have found that recording a number of shorter podcasts can be equally as effective and are often more watched by students.

    Thanks for your feedback. My thought is that the flipped approach is better for straight forward material because it is easy and can be learned on their own. Of course, shorter the recorded lecture, the better it is for students to focus and learn.

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