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Research Guides@Tufts

Flipping the Classroom

Maximizing the scarcest learning resource—time

Why Flip?

  • In a lecture setting, attention starts to decrease over time, so incorporating flipped activities can help keep students focused and learning for the entire period.
  • Flipping the classroom means that students have time to process and reflect on new concepts and broaden their knowledge base before coming to class to apply their learning.
  • Instructors can get a sense of where students are having difficulty with the course material or have questions or misconceptions about concepts (possibly through an online assessment or discussion forum) before they come to class. Instructors can then adjust what will be done in class depending on this feedback. This is often called “just-in-time teaching” (JITT).
  • Students can control the time, pace and place of learning with the online materials. Many students find it useful to repeat segments of an online presentation when they are having difficulty with a particular concept or when they are studying for the final exam. For some students the ability to rewind and listen to a presentation or explanation again can help them make more meaningful notes or overcome language fluency difficulties.
  • Although an up-front investment of time is necessary to to create online materials, including video content, the materials can be reused by the instructor from year to year.
  • Flipping some classes can add some variety and change of pace to classes and make the course more interesting for both students and instructor.
  • There is evidence that having students engage in active learning and peer learning in class leads to deeper understanding and greater retention of concepts than traditional lecture information transfer in class.

Challenges

  • Increased work load for the instructor. Time and effort is required to rethink and prepare both pre-class and in-class activities; however, activities can often be reused without too much effort the next time the class is offered.
  • Instructors may need to decrease the course content. With more student participation and dialogue, instructors may find that they are not able to cover as much material; rethinking the learning outcomes of the course may be necessary. 
  • Not all active-learning strategies are feasible in large classes. There are still many ways to engage students in applying concepts and peer learning. A mixture of mini-lectures and think-pair-share and/or the use of clickers can be effective even in really large classes.
  • Students might resist changing from a lecture approach. For many students being passive in a lecture is easier and less intimidating than being actively involved in a class.
  • Technology. Who has ever used a new technology without some kind of technical issue?