Study extols the virtues of the flipped classroom

snapchat-classroomThe flipped classroom has gained significant traction since MOOCs have grown in popularity.  A few years ago a Stanford study explored the concept in the context of teaching neuroscience.

“Our results suggest that students are better prepared to understand a theory after first exploring by themselves, and that tangible user interfaces are particularly well-suited for that purpose,” says Bertrand Schneider, a graduate student who led the research under the direction of Paulo Blikstein, an assistant professor of education.

Whilst the concept has not quite crossed the chasm yet, it is nonetheless gathering a growing evidence base to support it.  Researchers from Concordia University believe flipping the classroom can play a crucial role in improving physics education.

The virtue of flipping the classroom

The researchers document their thinking in a recently published paper, and found improvements in both thinking and learning by engaging in a flipped approach.

“It has been shown that in typical physics classes, students’ beliefs about their own learning deteriorate or at best stay the same. I want to reverse that result,” the authors say.

“This study shows that if you combine a meta-cognitive activity with an interactive activity, students can better hone their thinking abilities for that course.”

In laymans terms, meta-cognition is the simple act of thinking about how we think.  So when people engaged in reflective writing, they had to express in their own words the content they had read in the text book.

Learning by teaching

This in itself is not a new finding, with Oppenheimer famously saying that we learn best when we teach others, and a number of studies highlight the power of reflection on our ability to learn.

The theory is that because that is a much more involved process than merely regurgitating information in a rote fashion, it engages more of our brain in the process.

This approach to reflective learning works particularly well when combined with collaborative work with both ones peers and with professors.

“That combination of activities produces what is referred to as cognitive dissonance—that feeling of discomfort when the new information you’re confronted with conflicts with what you already believe,” the authors say.

The eventual aim for the researchers is an environment whereby students grapple with a problem on their own, before then coming to a collaborative class environment where they can work on the challenge alongside their peers and their teachers.

Time will tell how realistic this goal turns out to be.


11 thoughts on “Study extols the virtues of the flipped classroom

  1. I think flipped classrooms are a brilliant idea but I'm curious about how you would manage tasks for the inevitable group of students who have not done the pre-class task. Does anybody have any solutions?

  2. The "Flipped" Classroom is just another fad. Online recorded lectures is a variation of video-recorded lectures for televised classes. Or remember the fad about video-conference classes? Technological fads will never replace effective teaching.

    Successful teachers use a variety of techniques in the classroom, not embrace every new fad as a messianic cult that will supposedly engage all students. That will range from lectures, to discussions, to analysis of readings, to video clips and PowerPoints. Taking a monolithic approach to teaching is disastrous. Not only do students exercise a variety of learning styles, but they also have to adjust to the teaching styles of their professors. Those pedagogical techniques are often geared toward specific disciplines and cannot effectively be transferred to other disciplines.

  3. I am using Flipped Learning for a couple of years now and it was embraced from the first moment from my students.
    The preparation before implementing Flipped ways of Learning is what I think, the most crucial part of this project. Not every video or kind of media is "harmonized" to what you want to present. So many times, you have either to search a lot to find what you need to present, or do it yourself! After all you ask your students to dedicate 5-10 minutes of their precious time after school to watch or to walk trough several resources. I am expecting these to be "one of a kind" so they will do it again… and again!
    Then, collaborating the most of our class time, makes the big difference. As Flipped Class promotes we are going "From Sage on the Stage" to "Guide on the Side" and that is what students need.

  4. The way students do school now is by cramming for tests. They tend not to do any outside work for a class until a test is imminent, at which time they cram for the exam, reading and memorizing as much as possible in the shortest time possible.

  5. As a former high school chemistry and physics teacher, the flipped classroom is appealing as well as a better use of time. I can't tell how many times students "gave up" on homework problems, requiring me to "re-teach". Additionally, a flipped classroom allows much more freedom for collaborative learning (i.e. group work). Very few things in this working world are created or perfected solo; they are done in teams. Having students (or teams) work the problem under the guidance of the subject matter expert is preferable to assigning homework and hoping they all "get it". Also, a flipped classroom allows for the teacher/professor to refine their lessons. Let's face it: We all know what we want to convey to our students but sometimes our subject mastery encourages us to place shortcuts in lessons. Shortcuts all our students might not get. A flipped classroom allows for improving delivery.

  6. A wonderful concept, and one which has taken hold in my own teaching to good effect. The amount of time you can spend facilitating learning and applying knowledge and understanding in class time is a huge positive of Flipped Learning. Time spent introducing new material in lessons is cut down, and like the example used in the article, students' can choose to reinforce their progress with more teacher input, or choose to apply and develop it – self paced/choice style learning.

  7. I despise flipping. Maybe for some subjects it works but for economics courses it was a total disaster. Without an interactive lecture, myself and fellow students would show up confused, having studied a concept the wrong way. Because the professor could not get feedback during her lecture, she blew through the parts that confused us and lingered on the parts we all understood. While lively in class, the prefessor was awful when she was pre-taped. She was wearing the same outfit in all her lectures so she sat down one day and taped them all. She was so boring.

  8. I thought the "flipping" concept was intended for elementary or high school education, not the college format. There is way too much reading in college to be done over the hour or so allotted to most classes. Maybe you could set aside some time for problem sets in class though, that could be interesting.

  9. One rather small problem – what about those pupils who have no intention whatsoever of doing anything at home. Doing homework? You must be joking. And to be fair, I really don't blame them. Students and teachers must be allowed to have a life. Personally, I really can't be bothered constantly setting homework only to have to spend my free time running after loads of students who haven't done it.

  10. One of the best thing to come out of this in my classroom has been the uptake of parents viewing the mathematics videos I have created or shared with the children. How many times have parents said "I would help, but I don't know which methods you use in school."

    By sharing the videos with parents and children, we are breaking down those barriers, often before the learning has begun in the classroom. Moving learning on at a quicker pace.

  11. One of the reasons I love to 'flip' my classroom is because I have found that it encourages students to become much more independent in their learning. By expecting them to take ownership and study something prior to the lesson they are gaining some knowledge prior to walking through my door so that we can immediately get to dealing with any questions, queries or interesting points. What better way to use class time effectively, encourage independence in our young people and deepen their learning through challenging lessons using what they've studied at home!

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