Monday, June 11, 2012

Student Thoughts on Flipped Teaching

A classmate of mine passed along this post "Reflecting on the flipped classroom" from Stacey Roshan at The Daily Riff This post will be a collection of my thoughts from reading this article.

As I read through Part 1 of the article, there were a few statements that stood out to me. Stacey made the clear statement that I think is sometimes lost on those who are against using Flipped Teaching, which is "In AP Calculus, I have a large amount of material to get through and I'm constrained by the testing calendar." I know this statement is obvious, but at the end of the day it is our reality as teachers. Our classes are full of required content and even though we may think that learning through constructivist methods, such as inquiry, authentic learning and discovery would probably serve our students the best, we simply do not have the time to explore content in that way. Because of the time issue, Flipped Teaching because extremely relevant and useful. 

Another idea from the article that I latched onto was the term "supported failure." As teachers we all know that learning takes place in the failures, and thus we want to structure our classes for students to fail on certain things so it can lead to later success. Roshan argues here that Flipped Teaching is a great way to achieve "supported failure" because students will always be able to run into their road blocks and failures while in the safe environment of the classroom. Her article focuses on AP Calculus students, who as she explains, experience a lot of anxiety and pressure. This anxiety and pressure can be alleviated by allowing the failures to take place in class rather than at home in isolation. 

The second half of the article is where things get interesting ( Actual student feedback is provided. 

As I read through her students' comments there were some that made me go "ah-ha" since I had considered them previously:
  • "The ability to know the amount of time you would need for calc homework" This comment is something that I have overlooked when thinking about Flipped Teaching, but is significant for students. We all know that teenagers are generally busy and in many cases end up pushing homework to the last minute. And then when students sit down to do some homework, they made find that something they thought would take 15 minutes, turns into two hours as they struggle through it. That can be very discouraging and totally throw off an already hectic schedule. A nice aspect of Flipped Teaching is that the students always have a pretty good idea of how long they will need to spend on that class in the evening. For teenagers always trying to cram too much into their lives, this is a huge benefit and may lead to less late nights
  • many of the students commented on the ability to set their own pace with the learning. This was a very common theme of the comments. This speaks to the students' meta-cognition and allowing them to think about how to best structure their own learning rather than the one-size-fits-all lecture in class. Although, the videos only come in one form, the ability to rewind, pause and review seemed to provide students with the feeling of individualization
  • "Sometimes I feel as if the way the class is run causes me to take longer to understand the material than if it was being taught in class." In my experience using Flipped Teaching, this seems to be a common theme as well. Students don't mind using the videos and like not having conventional homework, but at the end of the day they still feel that they would have understood the content more easily with the teacher lecturing in class rather than through video. To me this seems to stem from the students being comfortable with a certain style of teaching and feel discomfort from using a different method. Although, I disagree with the comment, it is something that needs to be considered
  • "Make more review videos as a class" Students want to be a part of the video-making process. This ties back to my previous post on the Student Led Flipped Classroom
  • "I think that the format of the class helped me to get more comfortable working with classmates and asking questions. I got so used to working on math problems at home, and it was nice to have the support of classmates." This is a very positive comment on some added benefits of Flipped Teaching. It allows for students to improve their skills with working together and learning socially rather than in isolation
  • "It didn't help with taking notes/paying attention because if I missed something or was not very focused in watching a video, I could just re-watch the section with no real consequence." This is an interesting comment. The student is saying that Flipped Teaching didn't help to teach them how to pay attention in class, which is a skill that he/she sees as important for post-secondary. Sometimes something we view as a positive can have some unexpected negative results
If you have any thoughts on this or other have links to articles/data that have looked at student feedback on Flipped Teaching, please share them below. It is really important for us to explore the method from the student perspective.

Thanks again for reading.


  1. I'm going to run sideways with this comment to your excellent post, Ryan. I have a challenge for you. With literally every point you made here, I was thinking about how it might translate into a higher education setting. And every point fit right in. So, the challenge:

    Now that you're an instructional designer and working in an organization that is trying to shift the teaching and learning culture on our university campus, can you use what you've discovered and shared here in your own work? Can you help professors--some of the busiest and most stubborn educators in the world--consider flipping their classrooms? Will these findings and your thoughts on them help you persuade faculty to take a chance on turning their classes upside down?

    Courage, mate. It's a brave new world!

  2. I thank you for the questions and I have responded to them in my next post.

    Check it out: More Than a Feeling: In Search of Hard Evidence