Teaching Flipped Classes: Lessons Learned

Teaching Flipped Classes: Lessons Learned

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2984-2.ch003


This chapter corresponds to the DO step in the P-D-S-A cycle, where the syllabus is translated into day-to-day learning delivery both within and outside of the classroom. It discusses some of the unanticipated issues that have been encountered over the years and how they have been managed. The factors that determine student and team satisfaction are discussed as well as some of the group issues that may have to be dealt with, including the impact of group size and how to handle “slackers.” This chapter discusses the importance of designing the quizzes, exams, and learning materials so that they reinforce the learning routine developed during a flipped class. And, the point is made that instructors attempting to teach a flipped class for the first time should be briefed and mentored by experienced “flippers” as far as what to expect so as to avoid unexpected surprises in the flipped class.
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Student Satisfaction In The Flipped Class

In order to deal with and manage issues that may arise while teaching a flipped class, it is useful to understand what determines student satisfaction (or lack thereof) in such a class. Research (Swart & Wuensch, 2016) has shown that flipped classes measurably reduce barriers to student active engagement with learning (e.g. transactional distances) compared to traditional f2f classes. Simultaneously, student satisfaction, which is highly correlated with student learning, is also measurably improved.

The research results attribute improvement in student satisfaction with flipped learning to improvement in instructional technology present in the flipped classroom, the possibility for greater interaction with fellow students through the IGL activities, and the opportunity to obtain coaching and consulting from the instructor (Just-in-Time Learning).

The f2f interactive group learning activities distinguish flipped learning from both f2f and online learning and are central to the success of flipped learning (Bishop & Verleger, 2013). Research has shown that student satisfaction with group collaboration in a flipped classroom can be attributed to student attitudes toward collaboration, as well as the communication and understanding between the students and the instructor. Surprisingly, the understanding and communication between the students themselves did not appear to impact student satisfaction with flipped learning. This may be in part due to students not taking responsibility for their own learning while working in teams and continuing to hold the instructor responsible for teaching them the material (Swart et al., 2015).

As pointed out by Bolton (1999), just because students are assigned to work in teams does not ensure that they can work effectively in teams. The research results referred to above may help to reinforce those findings. When students do not know how to effectively work in teams, they often look for external help from the instructor as opposed to harnessing the collective knowledge of the group to seek out a solution from within. Thus, the instructor’s skill in providing timely consulting and coaching will directly impact student satisfaction. But, just as students are not naturally endowed with teaming skills, instructors are not necessarily naturally endowed with coaching and consulting skills. Hence, the research cited above concludes that student training in teaming skills should be integrated with the subject matter knowledge of the flipped class, and that instructors should be given the opportunity to learn essential coaching and consulting skills before being assigned to flipped classes.

The greater satisfaction experienced by students in flipped classes also appears to have resulted in better objective measures of learning. Final grade means and medians have consistently been over 10 points higher in the flipped classes than they were in the same class taught by the same instructor in a traditional lecture format. More remarkable is that in those same classes, the range in grades had been greatly reduced with few grades below 70. While remarkable, it is a natural result of students learning from the group collaboration process during the IGL activities. As one observer noted, it must be almost impossible to flunk a flipped class!

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