Flipped Classroom Model

Goals specific to this model:

  • 1Create more flexibility for students
  • 2Create more active learning opportunities for students
  • 3Tailor instruction based on data
  • 4Address diverse needs of heterogeneous students

Variations of this model

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In a flipped class, “classroom time” may be face to face or online. Either way, the goal is to increase active learning opportunities for students, thereby enhancing learning outcomes. Some direct instruction may still be involved in class time, but it is generally provided in smaller chunks and targeted to particularly challenging topics.

As for students’ online work before class, many flipped class scenarios use video lectures, but this merely shifts the timing of the passive lecture – missing a key opportunity to significantly increase active learning opportunities. In contrast, with Acrobatiq for the online pre-class work, students interact with the material before class – practicing with and getting feedback on their new knowledge and skills. These interactions have several advantages for optimizing the flipped class model:

  • they create accountability because students have something to do (not only read or watch),
  • they promote better learning because students get immediate feedback,
  • and they provide data on how students are learning that can be useful in multiple ways, e.g., adaptive teaching during class time that focuses on the areas where students had difficulty.

What this model means for students

For students, the pre-class work may be more active than what they are used to (e.g., compared to reading a textbook or watching a video). Students may perceive that they are being asked to do more before class (especially because class readings and videos are often skipped in practice). But if the amount of pre-work is managed and its value for learning is explained, students can experience more personalized learning. They get helpful feedback targeted to their particular responses while they are in the process of learning, so misconceptions are less likely to become entrenched. Moreover, to the degree that instructors refer to students’ pre-work and even adapt their lessons accordingly, students will see that class time is also more tailored to their needs.

What this model means for teachers

Teachers experience the biggest change in how they spend their time in class. For teachers who predominantly lectured prior to engaging this model, they will no longer be giving full-length lectures during class. Instead, they will need to plan and incorporate active-learning activities into their class time. Many teachers already wish to move in this direction because active learning’s positive effects on assessment scores and course pass rates.

In a flipped class model, because students’ homework is mostly done before class, how the teacher assigns and grades this work should also be different from traditional homework. Students aren’t necessarily expected to get pre-work questions correct because the focus is on learning – including learning from mistakes – rather than assessment, so grading more on activities completed than percent correct is recommended.

Finally, thanks to learning data from the students’ pre-work, teachers now have the opportunity to adapt how they teach a particular topic or class based on students’ areas of strength and need for improvement. This means the flipped class model shifts from a teacher-centered approach (“What am I going to cover today? What I always cover in the third week of class.”) to a student-centered approach (“What do my students need to learn”) where the teacher is more of a guide or coach helping students’ refine and extend their understanding.

Suggested strategies that best leverage the strengths of this model:

  • 1.

    Lesson planning: Instead of planning class-long lectures, consider focusing your lesson planning on these components:

    • Identify one or more practice exercises that require students to apply a concept or skill they learned in the pre-work. Alternatively, generate one or more discussion questions that require students to explain what they have learned through the integration or application of skills and concepts they learned in the pre-work.
    • Schedule time in class for students to work on these exercises/discussion questions, possibly in pairs or small groups. While students are collaboratively working in class, “listen in” to students’ conversations and make clear that you are available to address questions that arise.
    • Plan to debrief these exercises so that you can get students’ responses and/or share how an expert would think through a response.
    • For tough topics or concepts, plan a mini-lecture with clear explanations and concrete examples (ideally, complementing rather than completely repeating what is already in the pre-work).
  • 2.
    Assigning work: Because students will need to be more active in completing their pre-class work, it is important to communicate to students the value of this work (e.g., the more students complete the pre-work, the better you can tailor classtime to meet their needs). In addition, help students understand the goal: they aren’t expected to get the all the questions “right” but to make their best effort and learn from their mistakes. It can be helpful to reassure students that you aim to reward their sincere effort, and they should not be discouraged if they get more wrong answers than they are used to.
  • 3.

    Grading pre-work: Remember that the goal of the pre-work is students’ learning, so find a grading scheme that

    • incentivizes students to do the pre-work but
    • does not penalize students for making errors. One approach is to assign points for students’ completion of a certain proportion of the exercises on assigned pages, regardless of how accurate their responses were.

Benefits

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  • Students are more active during their time learning – both during class and while doing online pre-class work – which contributes to greater learning gains.
  • Students receive feedback as they complete their online pre-class work, so common errors and misconceptions can be quickly corrected.
  • Students, who may differ in prior knowledge, can utilize the pre-class work to “level out” their preparation before class.
  • Teachers get a sense of students’ areas of strengths and points of confusion before class – when there is still time for them to do something about it.
  • Teachers often find that, because students come to class more prepared, they can use class time to dig deeper into the material.