The flipped classroom: lectures at home, homework in class

Students start to gather in Judy Penn's Microbiology class a few minutes early, moving the long tables into five groups and sitting down to wait for Penn's instructions.
Once class begins, Penn starts them in a mix of short group discussions, interspersed with even shorter class discussions and having the groups report to the class a few times about double-layered cell walls and relating bacteria through chromosomes. All while she wanders the class answering lingering questions that students might have after watching lectures and reading course material the night before.
This is an example of a flipped classroom. Many other professors, mainly from the science department, also follow the same method for teaching their classes.
According to Flipped Learning Network, an organization based on helping teachers implement flipped classrooms, flipped learning is, “an approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment."
Or to put it simply, "school work at home and homework at school."
"The goal of this format is to focus in-class activities on the higher levels of learning," Penn said. "Such as applying a concept to a [real world] situation or listening to someone describe a concept and evaluating their description. These are difficult for students to master on their own at home, so we have shifted that to the classroom, moving the information delivery part – lectures, reading – to pre-class homework."
"[In a lecture-based classroom] the instructor lectures, while the students passively listen and maybe take notes,” said Leoned Gines, a biology professor at SCC. “The instructor can pepper the class with questions during the lecture, but there's always the chance that the same folks will answer all the questions.”
In a flipped class, Gines is able to move around the class and interact with the students and gather information from them about concepts that they are having trouble with so that he can focus on that. “This kind of intimate, small group coaching, is harder to do in a purely lecture-based class.”
A flipped classroom seems almost perfect for a wide range of students, but it doesn’t come without a sacrifice for teachers. Don Christensen, a psychology professor who doesn't teach flipped classes, pointed out that they often demand more work outside of class.
"If you're going to do flipped, you almost always have to put twice the hours to the class,” Christensen said, “because the idea is that you are doing homework and that sorts of things in the class, you need other time on your own to make lectures and things like that for your students.”
Stephanie Diemel, a physics professor at SCC, also said, "for me it's much more enjoyable because I get more one on one time with students. It helps me figure out individually what is the best way for me to help them."
However, some students aren’t as impressed with the flipped classroom model. Kalkidan Worku, a student in Penn's microbiology class, said that learning course materials outside of class took more time than she was used to.
"I have other hard classes and I have a job,” Worku said. “It's just a lot more work."
Other students agree with their teachers. Victoria Bateyko, another student in Penn's class, said, "I think that it is a very good way of allowing students to get feedback of how to work in a class. Teachers have a planned system that allows us to know what is expected of us."
Ultimately, each professor's approach to the flipped classroom varies. “It depends on the teacher,” Diemel said. “There's no one model that works. But if someone is interested then they should go for it.”

_Ilona Kinnear

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