Are you ready to flip your classroom?

I was preparing my syllabus for this semester for a class that would be taught in the traditional (lecture) format during the first half and the flipped classroom style in the second half. The class schedule for the traditional format appeared a lot simpler and less busy than the one for the flipped style of teaching (a sample is shown below where the first two rows in green are for teaching two lectures in the traditional method and the next four rows shown in purple for teaching two lectures for the flipped classroom style). It is apparent from this example that planning for teaching in the flipped classroom style involves a significant amount of preparation- group formation, creation or selection of lecture videos, an activity to engage students for the active learning session in the classroom and a quiz for each lecture.

The endocrine pancreas – Insulin Secretion, Insulin Action and Signaling Pathways Reading 7
Glucose Homeostasis, Types of Diabetes mellitus Reading 7
View lecture video 1 (Pathogenesis of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes; take Q6 over lecture video 1, due Mon. 3/14, 9AM)
Review lecture, Group work 3 on Pathogenesis of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes (everyone must be in their own groups) Reading 7
View Lecture video 2 (Clinical Manifestations of Acute Diabetes), take Q7 over lecture video 2 due Wed. 3/16, 9AM
Review lecture, Group work 4 on Clinical Manifestations of Acute Diabetes (everyone must be in their own groups) Reading 7

Flipped classroom teaching is where the students are expected to utilize assigned learning resources to become familiar with the content before arriving in the classroom.  Learning resources vary depending on the course. Some examples include assigned readings, practice problems, and lectures in the form of videos, all of which can be accessed easily from anywhere. Typically teacher-created readings and videos are favored more than published ones. The issue with published resources could be the depth of the content which could be too much or too little. Provided appropriate modification, published resources could reduce the burden of creating new resources from scratch.

A quick assessment over the learning resources would help the instructor to assess if the students are in fact completing the assignment and if there are any specific areas that are not well understood. Students similarly would be more willing to complete the assignment when a grade is attached.

The main purpose of the flipped classroom approach to teaching is to create opportunities for active learning and problem solving during class while shifting lecture to outside of class. A mini lecture over the difficult concepts is how I handle the first part of my lecture period. First, the students are given an opportunity to ask questions over the assigned learning resources. We then discuss any of the quiz questions that most students missed. Next, we address any confusing or difficult concepts from the assigned learning resource before letting students begin their in-class activity. In-class activity, when designed appropriately, must reinforce their learning that started outside and it must be relevant to the content. Normally, the questions are of a higher order of Bloom’s taxonomy such as comprehension, application and analysis especially if these activities are in the team-based learning format. Students, at this point, would have been exposed to the topics before class through the learning resources followed by an assessment. The same content is then worked on in class through a variety of activities. Such repetition is the essence in this style of teaching.

It is not just the instructor who is trying to use the flipped classroom method of teaching who must be prepared with all the assignments for each and every class but students must be completing all the tasks in an orderly manner.  Without such commitment by the instructor and the students, the success of this style of teaching becomes questionable. A caution here is to start with one or a few sessions a semester to become familiar with the process rather than to flip the entire course all at once.

The advantages of this approach are such that the students are given ownership for the pace of their learning, they are accountable for completing the assigned tasks, and are engaged by activities during class time. Although students do approach this style positively, one comment from the students that is consistent is the amount of time this style of learning consumes. The grade improvement that it brings and most importantly the study habits that it instills are priceless. However, getting students to believe that their learning has been strengthened by this pedagogy may not occur until after the experience is over!

 

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Chaya Gopalan received her PhD in Physiology from University of Glasgow and completed two years of postdoctoral training at Michigan State University. Chaya is interested in pedagogical research studying innovative teaching methodologies to include Team-based Learning (TBL), Case-based Learning and Flipped Classroom. Her current project is related to the use of recorded lectures to replace live lectures on student performance and the
impact of flipped classroom style of teaching on student performance.

One thought on “Are you ready to flip your classroom?”

One of the issues here with our medical students who all have the same courses is that individual faculty members need to know what other flipped learning responsibilities are being imposed on the students. If everything needs to be learned outside of class, then why come to class or where does one get the time?

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