Instructor’s perspective on the flipped classroom

When I flipped my classroom, I expected the benefits of more interactive class time, the opportunity to go deeper into the material, and students being able to review lectures easily. Two additional unexpected benefits were students taking notes, and asking more questions.

I have always struggled with the balance of providing powerpoint lectures for review, and encouraging students to take notes. Even with incomplete powerpoint slides, very few students would take notes. With videos, I noticed a number of students bringing notes to class, and they were good notes: organized, neat and colour-coded. Students are able to work their way through the material at their own pace, feeling less rushed; they also know that we will use the material in class and they will need notes as a reminder.

I always encourage questions, and almost always get nothing. Questions offer me feedback on my teaching, and I find them valuable for that reason. I now have comprehension quizzes based on the videos, to be answered online before class. I use the aggregate results as a guide to what needs to be reviewed. I began offering students the opportunity to ask their own questions within the quiz, and much to my surprise, I get way more questions this way than I have ever had in class. I also get more questions in class, when students can ask me to review certain ideas at the beginning of each class. In both cases, I realized that students have had time to ‘digest’ the information, vs. having just learned it. The online questions are also ‘anonymous’, in that other students don’t know their identity and they aren’t as worried about ‘dumb questions’. If questions are not answered in class, I email the student with an answer. I want to ensure that questions are valued and encouraged, and students really appreciate this personal touch (this is possible because it is a small class).

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