I first heard about “Flipping” as a graduate student [if you aren’t sure what flipping is, click here for more info]. One of my former lab mates was in town and talking about the work she was doing to transition one of her classes to a flipped class. She had just finished her first year at a teaching-oriented four-year college and was my #lifegoals because I had recently determined that teaching (rather than research) was where my passion in psychology was. While I was interested in the idea at this time, I didn’t know enough about it—or teaching pedagogy in general for that matter—to do anything with it. It wasn’t until much later that I circled back to the flipped class model.
I started very small. I first added multiple choice, multiple attempt online reading quizzes to my courses that were due before students came to class. This might not be considered flipping, but it was a way to make sure students were engaging with the material before coming to class, and a way to assess what areas students needed more work with. This also let me simplify my lectures quite a bit and start incorporating more activities.
The real commitment to flipping came just this year. As I mentioned in my last post I taught my first online class last summer (2017), Intro to Psych. For the class I created interactive lessons in lieu of posting PowerPoints, narrated lectures, or assigned readings. The lessons primarily consisted of Crash Course Psychology (and other) videos with some supplemental text. After each topic within the lesson, there was a multiple choice question or two that checked for students' understanding of the material. To craft each lesson, I modified what I was doing in my face-to-face classes (lectures, activities, reflections, and study guides) to fit within the online modality.
After the time spent transforming the material I was using previously, I realized I could continue to use the online lessons in my face-to-face classes* as a way to flip the class. This fall, students in my Intro Psych class completed the online lessons I had created over the summer, before coming to class. In class, students asked questions about the material and I spent some time reiterating the main points; working together with students to define key concepts and work through examples. Then, we did some kind of activity. For example, when covering memory, we played memory games that demonstrated different principles of memory like encoding and working memory capacity.
I am now in my second semester of flipping this class and teaching two sections of it. Here are some things I learned after the first semester and have implemented for this semester:
Remember that students are probably not used to this approach:
The lessons take students some time to get used to, especially when it comes to taking notes. As I indicated in that earlier post, students may be used to watching videos, but they aren’t used to using videos for learning content. This semester I was more explicit during the first few days about the difference between reading the text and doing the lessons and gave them ideas about how they could interact with the videos (decreasing video speed, transcripts, captioning, etc.) to make learning easier.
Have a plan to cover the big (or hard) ideas again:
Students may need help adjusting their note-taking:
provide students with a list of about 12 learning objectives for the material they are learning. I then identify which learning objectives will be covered in each lesson (this is done on the first “page” of the lesson). Last semester, I did not reinforce this idea enough, so students routinely expressed that they did not know where to find information for their study guides. This semester I have been clearer and even spent time discussing ways to approach note taking during the lessons (print out each learning objective on its own sheet, then use that sheet to take notes on the learning objective). So far, students have been more successful, but I can tell there are still students who are struggling with taking notes from the lessons and videos. I am still thinking about the best ways to support better note taking while making students accountable for their learning (if you have ideas, please share!).
As with all of my teaching, it’s a work in progress. But I can conclude that it has, in its early stages, been a success. When I received my teaching evaluations for the fall a couple of weeks ago, I saw more positive comments about the course and my teaching overall than in previous semesters. I also saw an increase in my teaching evaluation scores. Anecdotally, a student told me in class one day “I feel like I’m actually learning something in this class”, which definitely feels like a win!
*My face-to-face classes are capped at 30 students. I can see how the size of the class could influence the effectiveness of a flipped class and my approaches may not work for you. I do think flipping in general can work in larger classes (although I'm not sure about massive classes of 100 or more)
Written by Ciara Kidder