During last week’s workshop on “Flipping the classroom“, a number of issues were raised by the delegates, which I said I’d document. If you want a copy of the slides and notes, please scroll to the bottom of this post.
How do I motivate the students to do the preparatory work?
How do I persuade students of their role in the learning process?
There are a number of possible approaches to motivating learners to do the things I think are important:
Some students, from particular cultural backgrounds, may find the more discursive approach seen in a flipped classroom difficult to engage with at first. It might sit a long way outside of what they call “education”.
In commercial organisations, there is a process known as “educating the customer”, which is all about setting expectations, explaining the rationale, and making the process as simple as possible. Clear communications, from the outset, are essential.
Is “flipping” suitable for all academic disciplines?
My response to that would be that, if your discipline relies on considering new ideas, debate, reflection, critical thinking and conceptual understanding, then, yes, peer instruction/flipping is certainly a suitable approach to use. In fact, I would find it hard to identify a discipline where it would not work.
Will this create more workload for staff?
This depends on how much time you currently spend in preparation for lectures. Really, it should just be a change in what you prepare, rather than a difference in the time spent preparing.
Is technology an essential component of a flipped classroom approach?
What resources work best in supporting the pre-work?
Technology is not essential. But it can help. Just as the early pioneers of this approach used the technology of the day (journal articles), so I can also use current technologies to help:
If students are engaged, then the resource can be as long or boring as you wish. To stimulate that engagement, though, it’s probably best to keep them as short and as interesting as possible.
Stephen Downes’ Principles of Effective Elearning still stand. Key factors are:
Can I use this approach with a large group?
Absolutely. Peer instruction and group work is at the heart of a flipped classroom approach. The role of the lecturer will change to being more of a facilitator as groups get larger. The current design of many lecture rooms, with tiered, fixed seating might make working groups harder, but not impossible.
See also: From cooperation to collaboration – helping students become collaborative learners, chapter 5 in Co-operative Learning: The Social and Intellectual Outcomes of Learning in Groups, Robyn M. Gillies, Adrian F. Ashman, Psychology Press, 2003
Does this approach work outside of Harvard and MIT?
There is research available that shows the peer instruction method working in a range of institutions – not just the rarified walls of Harvard et al.
Peer Instruction: Results from a Range of Classrooms Adam P. Fagen, Catherine H. Crouch and Eric Mazur, Phys. Teach., 40, 206-209 (2002).
Peer Instruction: From Harvard to Community Colleges Nathaniel Lasry, Eric Mazur and Jessica Watkins, Am. J. Phys., 76, 1066-1069 (2008).
Medina, J. (2008) “Brain rules” Pear Press, Seattle. See website at: http://www.brainrules.net/about-brain-rules
The bibliography from the following paper would be a very good starting point for anyone wishing to dig into the research and thinking further:
RYAN, B.. Flipping Over: Student-Centred Learning and Assessment. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, North America, 1, dec. 2013.
Posted: 16 June 2014