Differentiation to Accommodate Diverse Learners in the Flipped Classroom

Differentiation to Accommodate Diverse Learners in the Flipped Classroom

Grace O. Onodipe (Georgia Gwinnett College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5268-1.ch017


Flipping learning is an effective instructional strategy that allows for differentiation of instruction in a classroom with diverse learners. Paying particular attention to diversity of academic backgrounds and preparedness for college courses, this chapter explores differentiation strategies that could benefit a broad spectrum of learners in a flipped classroom. These differentiation strategies are at the course design and implementation levels and include differentiation strategies for pre-class preparation, in-class activities, and assessment.
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College classrooms in the 21st century have increasingly diverse learner populations. This diversity in higher education exists in various forms. In terms of demographics, we see much diversity - for example, underrepresented minorities characteristics differ from other students; first-generation college students’ needs differ from second and 3rd generation college students; students have varying socioeconomic backgrounds, age differences (traditional or non-traditional students’), and they differ in terms of their learning styles (Bishop & Verleger, 2013). Just as the U.S. population is becoming more diverse, so also is the college classroom in terms of race and ethnicity. In addition, students display differences in terms of their level of academic preparedness for college work. This richness of the classroom environment comes with many benefits. It also requires a major transformation in instructional design and pedagogical practices. Modification of classroom teaching strategies from the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to a more heterogeneous format is needed in order to support and meet the needs of these diverse populations (Goedhart, Blignaut-van Westrhenen, & Moser, 2019). In order to foster greater success, our classrooms must become more learner-centered, curricula more inclusive, delivery of materials, and assessment of learning more sensitive to these differences.

The flipped classroom is a pedagogical approach that is gaining popularity in college classrooms (Janotha, 2016; Hwang, Yin, & Chu, 2019). In the flipped classroom, students are required to gain basic understanding of course materials before they come to class, allowing class time to be devoted to the more advanced learning objectives which are deliberated upon while the professor is in the classroom to address any challenges (Janotha, 2016). Within a diverse flipped classroom, several strategies may be utilized to reach every student using differentiated instruction.

This chapter examines how a college professor in a diverse 4- year open access institution uses differentiation strategies to reach a broad spectrum of learners in a flipped classroom. With an acceptance rate of over 90 percent, there is diversity in the level of readiness for college coursework. The strategies discussed here are at the course design and implementation stages and include differentiation of pre-class assignments, differentiation of activities during the in-class phase of flipped learning, and differentiation in the type of assessments used. A 2000-level economics course and a 2000-level business statistics course are used to demonstrate how various components of the flipped classroom are tailored to benefit every learners.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Flipped Learning: A pedagogical approach that flips the conventional idea of a classroom where first exposure to course content happens before class time, leaving time in class for gaining deeper understanding of the material with professor facilitating learning and peers engaged in problem-solving activities.

Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT): Involves students preparing for class and submitting their work to the professor during class or ahead of class time; then the professor identifying areas of misunderstanding and adjusting the lesson to meet the needs of the students.

Differentiated Instruction (DI): A systematic way of proactively modifying teaching strategies to accommodate different students’ learning needs, styles, and preferences to achieve student success across the board.

Metacognitive Instruction: A process whereby professors use reflection to make timely modifications to their teaching at the planning, implementation, and evaluation phases.

Formative Assessment: Refers to quick and easy assessment methods used frequently to support learning while learning is still in progress.

Cheat Sheet: A concise set of notes containing formulas and key terms which students are allowed to create and bring into an exam for quick reference.

Scaffolding: A process that allows a professor to give the guidance and support learners need to enhance their learning, by building upon students’ prior knowledge and experience, one level at a time.

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