“Flipping the classroom” has become something of a buzzword in the last several years, driven in part by high profile publications in The New York Times (Fitzpatrick, 2012); The Chronicle of Higher Education (Berrett, 2012). In essence, “flipping the classroom” means that students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then use class time to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge, perhaps through problem-solving, discussion, or debates.

Bloom’s Taxonomy (Revised)

In terms of Bloom’s revised taxonomy (2001), this means that students are doing the lower levels of cognitive work (gaining knowledge and comprehension) outside of class, and focusing on the higher forms of cognitive work (application, analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation) in class, where they have the support of their peers and instructor. This model contrasts from the traditional model in which “first exposure” occurs via lecture in class, with students assimilating knowledge through homework; thus the term “flipped classroom.”

Assessment in the Flipped Class

The flipped classroom provides new opportunities for creative assessment.

For example, instead of the approach where conceptual questions are posed informally and answered by student “volunteers” in the traditional classroom,  in the flipped classroom all students must answer the conceptual question, for example via the use of  “clickers”, or handheld personal response systems, that allow students to answer anonymously and that allow the instructor to see (and display) the class data immediately.

If a large fraction of the class (usually between 30 and 65%) answers incorrectly, teachers can address that immediately. For example, students might reconsider the question in small groups while instructors circulate to promote productive discussions. After discussion, students can attempt to answer the conceptual question again. The instructor provides feedback, explaining the correct answer and following up with related questions if appropriate.

Excepted from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/flipping-the-classroom/

Key Elements of the Flipped Classroom

Provide an opportunity for students to gain first exposure prior to class.

The mechanism used for first exposure can vary, from simple textbook readings to lecture videos to podcasts or screen-casts.  These videos can be created by the instructor or found online from YouTube, the Khan Academy, MIT’s OpenCourseWare, Coursera, or other similar sources.

Provide an incentive for students to prepare for class.

To incentivize students to complete the out of class work, instructors usually prepare some type of online assessment.  The assignments can vary, ranging from online quizzes to worksheets to short writing assignments, but in each case the task provides an incentive for students to come to class prepared by speaking the common language of students: points.

In many cases, grading for completion rather than effort can be sufficient, particularly if class activities will provide students with the kind of feedback that grading for accuracy usually provides.

Provide a mechanism to assess student understanding.

The pre-class assignments that students complete as evidence of their preparation can also help both the instructor and the student assess understanding.

Pre-class online quizzes can allow the instructor to tailor class activities to focus on the elements with which students are struggling. If automatically graded, the quizzes can also help students pinpoint areas where they need help.

Pre-class worksheets can also help focus student attention on areas with which they’re struggling, and can be a departure point for class activities, while pre-class writing assignments help students clarify their thinking about a subject, thereby producing richer in-class discussions. Importantly, much of the feedback students need is provided in class.

Provide in-class activities that focus on higher level cognitive activities.

If the students gain basic knowledge outside of class, then they  spend class time promoting deeper learning. Again, the activity will depend on the learning goals of the class and the culture of the discipline.

In other contexts, students may spend time in class engaged in debates, data analysis, or synthesis activities. The key is that students are using class time to deepen their understanding and increase their skills at using their new knowledge.

Clickers in the Classroom

Some colleges are using tools for instant response in the classroom, these tools are sometime called clickers, and resemble a TV remote.  Clickers are used to poll students about specific questions, for example questions about the lecture, or to gauge understanding of topics.

Here at USF we offer teachers access to Poll Everywhere, which allows student to use their phones to respond to class polls or questions.

If you are interested in using about Poll Everywhere, you can learn more here.


Flipping the Classroom from Vanderbilt University

Educational Technologies at USF

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