How can a teacher make the best of their face-to-face time with students? That’s the question at the center of the flipped classroom model of teaching.
Different from the traditional approach of giving kids in-class lessons followed by homework, the flipped classroom model allows students to learn the basics at home through recorded lectures. They then come to class, where the teacher can assist them, prepared to apply the concepts to schoolwork.
What Is a Flipped Classroom?
The flipped classroom model is the culmination of years of tinkering by education professionals. An early example can be found in the 1998 book Effective Grading by Barbara Walvoord and Virginia Johnson Anderson. In their approach, teachers introduce concepts through work to be done prior to class, such as writing assignments or problem sets. Kids then bring their completed work to class, where they go through it with the instructor and other students in processing activities.
In 2000, teachers Maureen Lage, Glenn Platt, and Michael Treglia championed a similar approach, which they dubbed the inverted classroom. Aimed at catering many different learning styles, inverted classrooms also used a homework-before-lesson format. However, it also introduced technical elements like videos and Powerpoint presentations for students to acquaint themselves with new lessons.
Flipped Learning Today
Teachers Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams created the modern iteration of flipped learning with their book Flipped Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class, Every Day. In a video for FlippedClassroomWorkshop.com, Bergmann explains the origins of the pair’s concept.
“I would send [my students] home to do homework, and they would get stuck, and they wouldn’t have any help because their parents couldn’t help on, say, high school chemistry,” he said. “When we flipped the class, there was a lot more time for me, the expert, to help the student with their class.”
Like Lage’s, Platt’s, and Treglia’s model, Bergmann’s and Sams’ flipped classroom makes extensive use of videos for at-home work. According to Bergmann, this helps students who otherwise might get lost during a traditional in-class lesson.
“The nice thing about content on videos, of course, is there’s a pause and a rewind button. If you get lost, you can go back and rewind,” he said.
Research has been mixed on how beneficial the flipped classroom is. A 2017 examination of 46 studies found that, while some trials reported positive results, others found the benefits to be negligible. However, the same studies found that students in particular were fond of the flipped format for exactly the reasons mentioned by Bergmann.
“Students were generally satisfied with the approach, particularly the usefulness of the online modules, because of easy access to resources for self-paced learning,” the study found.