By then end of this module, you will be able to:
- Identify the characteristics and pedagogical implications of the flipped classroom instructional approach;
- Design instructional events based on flipped classroom guidelines;
- Use a flipped classroom approach to engage students;
- Evaluate your design in order to improve it if found necessary.
Flipped classroom refers to the practice of assigning instructional material such as pre-recorded lectures as homework outside of class, and devoting class time to instructor facilitated, concept application learning activities. It is also defined by facilitating low-level (terms, definitions, and basic content) learning outside class and high level (application based) learning within a class. Flipped classroom is a highly effective instructional approach given that class time can be devoted to active learning. It also allows for more one-on-one engagement with individual students and collaboration with peers.
Flipped classrooms may be an ideal venue for combining multiple methods of active learning, with much evidence to support it as a more effective means of instruction over a traditional, didactic approach. An initial suggestion is to test your students’ understanding of instructional material prior to engaging them in an active or collaborative activity. The act of retrieving information should benefit learning regardless of the format. Testing material results in higher average performance than simply rereading that same information.
Group discussion also benefits student performance as well as their conceptual understanding of applied principles. If you choose to use student presentations, their benefit would be enhanced to the degree that the student generates or creates, his or her own content for the presentation. The presence of the instructor and/or peer interaction has a great influence on students. The instructor support is important to help students apply concepts either through scaffolding or feedback.
The following are general tips to help you design your tasks in accordance to guidelines of a flipped classroom model:
- Prepare material for learners to review prior to class. Encourage students to explore the phenomenon and discover patterns, offer explanations and analyse data. Pre-class activities may include but are not restricted to: pre-recorded lectures, readings, videos or homework.
- Prepare a quiz to test learners understanding of the material before class starts. This may include multiple choice questions embedded into the assignment with immediate “programmed” feedback, audience response questions through clickers, open questions and short quizzes. This is relevant to help learners engage in retrieval of key concepts which enhances retention. Moreover, if you test students on out of class material prior to engaging them in a task, you create an additional opportunity to use feedback from these tests to tailor the content addressed in class.
- Engage students in a collaborative or active task, so they can work in groups and apply what they have learned. Some suggestions for in class activities are:
- Rapid pair and share activities: provide your students with an in class discussion question and pair them together to discuss, so they can later present their ideas to the class. Use this opportunity to provide timely and constructive feedback.
- Reflective pair and share activities: Give learners 2 to 3 days to answer discussion questions in brief essays, from which you need to select groups to present their essays for in-class discussion.
- Proactive pair and share activities: Pair learners together and have them take turns preparing their own discussion questions in order to host a class discussion on that topic.
- Pair problem solving and predict-observe-explain: Provide learners with a research hypothesis, have them predict and observe the results, immediately followed by an explanation or discussion of any discrepancies.
- Student presentations: Organise learners into groups of four to five and ask them to prepare a summary of class readings and a presentation of the materials. These materials are used to lead in class discussion.
- Instruct students to provide constructive, peer feedback. For a fully online context, have students post blog entries, wikis, a thread in the discussion forums, or publish their final assignment on the online platform for peer feedback and discussion to occur. Assign participation points in the evaluation rubric to enhance feedback.
- Conclude the session with a debrief of the most important point.
In this approach, students are responsible for watching lectures on their own and coming to class prepared for in class activities and discussion. Often your students will be unable to assess their own learning or identify strategies to enhance their learning. This is where you need to provide appropriate guidance either through scaffolding, timely feedback, or with suggestions of learning strategies to facilitate their learning. It is suggested to actively seek out the feedback of learners through short quizzes or open questions to identify problems or misconceptions.
Students in larger groups demonstrate greater learning gains than students in smaller groups and are less likely to regress from their pretest performance. Groups of four students are less constrained in their interactions than groups of two students and are also more willing to discuss conflicting perspectives. The recommendation is to use groups of five to seven members when groups must address challenging intellectual tasks.
Any evaluation and review of flipped classrooms should ideally be guided by objective measures of learning. Are your learners able to demonstrate the intended learning objectives? Realise that the quality of individual activities is measured in terms of the cognitive processes engaged, and on how constructively aligned they are to the same objectives.
Do not be surprised if learners in a flipped classroom have a more negative opinion of the use of technology. Some of it may come from the platform they are using, while students of different socioeconomic status may have varying levels of familiarity with technology (technological impediments). Keep in mind that personal reactions to educational technology do not necessarily reflect its impact on learning.
Now, you can work on designing your tasks, resources and support. Click on the following links to access guides to support your design process: