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Are flipped classes better?

November 19, 2013

flippedEverywhere I look there’s more about flipped classrooms. The term began gaining popularity in 2007, but the idea has been around for a long time. Harvard professor Eric Mazur has been doing his version of it for over 20 years. The two key components are:

  1. First exposure before class – short video lectures (3-10 min.) that students can pause and replay
  2. Application in class – engaging problem-solving activities, often in groups, student-centered


Flipping is so popular that this byline seems almost heretical: Harvey Mudd professors’ research suggests ‘flipped’ classes might not be worth the hassle. The folks at Harvey Mudd are beginning an NSF study after preliminary work indicated no real gain. If a difference is shown, it will be hard to say why –  the flip involves too many kinds of change. Perhaps it will all boil down to creating better in-class activities and producing high quality video.

Several good ideas from the flipped classroom

  • Shifting emphasis from delivering content to applying concepts
  • Moving from instructor-centered to student-centered
  • Breaking down 50-minute lectures into short chunks
  • Taking time to think about teaching and learning

Several challenges

  • Changing a mindset
  • Learning how to create videos
  • Managing activity in large classes
  • Accountability for viewing videos

Learn more

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Clark permalink*
    November 21, 2013 7:27 am

    Shorter, more focused lectures and engaging student activities would produce positive results. I’m not sure the videos themselves have much impact.

  2. Kristin Lewis permalink
    November 21, 2013 7:10 am

    Thanks for sharing this. An interesting article and a good warning. I suspect that the difference is in implementation?

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