Archive for May 4th, 2012

Flipping the Classroom

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Movie depictions of higher education have not caught up to the way learning happens at universities nowadays. Instead of the authoritative professor in the front of the classroom lecturing to rows of students, college and medical school classes are more likely to resemble chaotic laboratories with students working in teams to solve problems.

Online tools have made this transformation possible. What used to occur in person–the efficient delivery of content via lecture–has now migrated to home viewing. The problem sets and homework that used to take place at home now go on in the classroom with the professor as facilitator.

There’s evidence that the active learning approach improves student outcomes in an undergraduate physics course. Stanford Medical School “flipped” its biochemistry course and saw a surge in student attendance. Khan Academy has popularized this model, bringing short video lessons to millions of Internet students.

So, why doesn’t every faculty member teach this way? I can think of a few barriers:

  • The effort required to revamp an existing course can be daunting.
  • If assessment measures of student learning rely on memorization of content, lecturing may be most appropriate.
  • Some students resist active learning. They feel they learn best from an expert.
  • Physical classroom space hinders group exercises.

Have you encountered other hurdles to flipping your teaching?