1. Structure

The Flipped Classroom pedagogical model takes the traditional structure of teaching and flips it around. Typically you would have an education lecturing to students in the classroom, and an interactive component to be completed at home. In the flipped classroom model the structure is reversed in that students watch video lectures at home while the interactive component is in the classroom – together with their educator and fellow students.

2. Guide by the Side

A major factor in Flipped teaching is the role of the educator. In Flipped Classrooms the educator’s role is seen more as a “Guide by the Side” of the students; they are there to ask and answer questions, guiding the students to reach conclusions and grasp knowledge in their own direction. Some say this strategy is not much different from how Socrates used to teach; by asking his students questions until they either reached the answers on their own and understood the information, or until they realized the limitations of their knowledge and sought out more information.

3. Social Interaction

With the interactive component of the lesson being completed in the classroom, there is a much higher and constant opportunity for students to learn through social interaction. The active participation component forces all the students to actively engage with the material in a setting where they can help each other, where they can discuss and experiment together and with the educator, and where they can work towards the goal of mastering the lesson as opposed to simply listening to it.

4. Knowledge is in the Hands of the Learner

There is a shift in responsibility and control when flipping a classroom. In the traditional classroom the lecturer is often the one controlling the flow of the class and managing the lesson. The students juggle the tasks of listening, taking notes, and trying to reflect on the information and digest it. The reason why Flipped Classrooms have shown great results is in part because once flipped, the students hold more control over the class. The students can take time to reflect on and digest the pre-recorded video while at home, and in class – where the learning really happens, the responsibility of completing the activities and fully understanding the lesson rests on their shoulders. Students need to be active in order to complete the lesson. This gives students more of an impetus to achieve goals, ask questions, and interact with the material in an engaged way.

5. Results: Case Study

In 2011 Clintondale High School (Michigan) tested the Flipped Classroom structure and compared the results of the students to those learning in the traditional structure. The results were astounding. In the previous semester 13% of the class had failed, after the experiment no student received a grade below a C+. The traditional class also had previous fail grades with no improvements. Clintondale High embarked next on a total school flip with even more impressive results:

  • Failure rate in English dropped from 52% to 19%
  • Failure rate in math dropped from 44% to 13%
  • Failure rate in science dropped from 41% to 19
  • On average, the school estimated a 30%, after flipping it dropped to under 10%
  • Graduation rates rose to over 90% and college attendance rose from 63% in 2010 to 80% in 2012.

Some of the reasons for results such as those from Clintondale High School include the opportunity for educators to see and target areas of struggle while supporting areas where students are excelling. Also, there is more opportunity for interactive learning even if the students don’t complete their homework, which – let’s face it, they often don’t. Salman Khan, founder of the Khan academy, mentions this upside to flipping in his book The One World Schoolhouse when he writes “If students are going to skip homework, it’s far better to miss watching a video than to miss doing the problem sets.”

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