The concept of the “flipped classroom” has become the education world’s darling within the past few years.


In a flipped classroom, students watch their professors’ lectures online before class, while spending class time working on hands-on, “real world” problems.


The potential of the model has many educators thrilled — it could be the end of vast lecture halls, students falling asleep and boring, monotone professors.


But four professors at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. who are studying the effectiveness of a flipped classroom have bad news for advocates of the trend: it might not make any difference.

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  1. I disagree with this finding! My 8th grade math students have shown more confidence when they come to class since they know ahead of time what I will be teaching. They like being able to pause and rewind the video I make as well. It saves time in the classroom for taking notes – everyone doesn’t have to wait for the person who needs longer time. It also allows me time to walk around and help the struggling students. The key is to make the videos short – about 5 minutes – and not do it on a daily basis.

  2. Kate’s comment suggests at least two areas where more research is needed on flipped classrooms: Age levels and subject areas. The article notes that the instructor’s strengths need to be taken into account. I’ve observed a flipped classroom in the College of Education in which a small class of undergraduates were actively engaged in applying knowledge of differentiated instruction strategies to hands-on creation of strategies in pairs. The students had more time for working through the process of applying the strategies and more support from peers and instructor than they would have had doing this activity as an assignment outside class. Students also had to submit a self-evaluation form at the end of class. The instructor was able to use some time to conference with individual students about their progress in the course. This instructor is unusually organized, creative, and dedicated, I refer again to the article’s comments on instructor’s strengths and preferred modes of teaching. My guess is that in classes and courses dedicated to problem solving and collaboration, the flipped classroom may have decided benefits. When individual creation and reflection are the most valued outcomes, “flipping” may have less value.

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