F.A.Q.s about the Flipped Classroom

The following frequently asked questions provide insights on how to manage GSIs in a flipped classroom, best practices for managing student resistance, and a host of additional concerns commonly expressed by faculty.

What happens during the discussion section if the “lecture time” is used primarily for these in-class activities?

There are several ways that discussion sections can be altered in order to complement the flipped lecture components of the course. First, the discussion session might be a time for students to actively engage with additional examples, problems or concepts. For instance, there might be other learning objectives that can be satisfied in the discussion environment (e.g., writing workshops during discussion sections, additional problems solving in discussion). Alternatively, you might eliminate the use of discussion sections and integrate your graduate students in the lecture period by having them assist you with supporting student groups as they process the content supported by their in-class learning activities.

What is the role of graduate student instructors in a flipped classroom?

Graduate student instructors can assist in a flipped classroom structure by working with student groups during in-class activities, grading any accountability measures used as “entrance tickets.” GSIs might also have extended office hour time to provide additional support for students outside of the regular class-time. Depending on their comfort level and experience, some GSIs might be interested in designing some of the course content by planning pre-work, in-class activities, and assessments. CRLT Occasional Paper #21 offers additional ideas for working within GSI-faculty teams.

How do you handle student resistance to this pedagogy?

First, it is important to explain to your students your reasons for using this alternative approach to lecture by referring to the research evidence showing that students learn more when they are actively engaged with the content and highlighting how this practice aligns with your goals for student learning. Second, be sure to clearly state your expectations for them by describing in your course syllabus the criteria and norms for their participation, for their pre-class and in-class work and their assessments. Be sure to discuss these details at the beginning of class and at strategic points during the term to reinforce your expectations. Third, start using the interactive class activities from the beginning of the term so that students will have a clear sense of the class structure from the beginning. Fourth, as Felder (2011) suggests, consider collecting midterm student feedback to assess whether or not students find that the course structure is “(a) helping their learning, (b) hindering their learning or (c) neither helping nor hindering.” CRLT consultants can observe your class and gather student feedback on these questions and others, while assisting you with brainstorming alternatives approaches in response to student feedback. Click here to request a midterm student feedback or consultation.

I’m an English professor. Isn’t the “flipped classroom” just a trendy term for what my humanities colleagues and I have been doing for years?

It may well be. The use of in-class time to engage actively with reading or viewing that students have prepared beforehand has long been more standard in humanities courses than in other fields. But many instructors find it challenging to “scale up” such teaching strategies from a seminar setting into larger courses. In those settings, instructors may rely on a more traditional “sage on the stage” lecture style where students listen passively to a faculty member sharing ideas about a text the students may or may not have read. For such instructors, the idea of “flipping” their classes can be useful because it poses questions that can help bring the familiar seminar style into a larger setting: How can I effectively hold students accountable for preparing for class so they’re ready to engage actively? What are the key skills I want students to learn in this class, and how can I include opportunities for students to practice those skills during our class meetings? In thinking about the timing of “first exposure to content,” many instructors also find themselves reconsidering how they define the “content” of a course: To what extent is the course content comprised of the primary materials students will read, watch, or look at? And to what extent is it the kinds of reading skills, ability to build evidence-based arguments, or facility with asking productive questions that humanities instructors generally display in a conventional lecture? If the content is as much skills as texts, could “first exposure” to content include pre-class opportunities to see or respond to examples of such analytical practices, or to try them out in a low-stakes way?

In short, the pedagogy generally described by the term “flipped classroom” involves more than simply assigning readings before class. And many faculty in humanities fields have found their own teaching energized by thinking through the questions of accountability, first exposure, and active learning explored on these pages.

How can you plan a flipped classroom session that may not negatively impact quieter students?

When teaching in a flipped classroom, it is important to take into account that students may prefer to process information in a variety of ways. When designing class activities, it is helpful to provide students some individual reflection time so that they can develop their own ideas before discussing them within the group. For instance, faculty may want to have students write individually before discussing a question prompt within their groups. For whole-class discussion, a strategy known as the think-pair-share is helpful. In this approach, the faculty member poses a question and asks students to think alone for a few minutes before having students discuss their ideas with a partner. After these paired conversations, students then share their ideas with the whole class. For group projects, faculty can assign roles in student teams (and rotate these roles) to allow all students the opportunity to participate. At the end of class sessions, it may be helpful for students to write down the main points of the class session or identify any concepts that still remain unclear to them. For more suggestions about supporting quieter students in an active learning classroom see Monahan (2013).

Are there campus resources for creating podcasts/webcasts?

Yes. If you are affiliated with LSA, the ISS Media Center can help, and the Duderstadt Center can provide space and support to anyone on campus.  Both units can provide space and support to record your video or audio podcasts. There are two resources that might be of particular interest: the Video Studio and the Recording Booth in the GroundWorks Studio.

1. Video Studio

This was the studio they used for all the initial U-M Coursera courses, and it is particularly useful if you would want to appear on screen yourself. High quality video and audio products come out of this facility. The presentation screen has an annotation screen so that slides can be annotated/drawn on easily. The idea behind the room is that you do a take using the software they have (Wirecast) and it is ready to upload when you leave. To get access to it you need to do a training session: Media Training, inlerabt@umich.edu, 763-6531).

2. Recording Booth in the GroundWorks Studio

This facility has high quality microphones and computers that run Camtasia. It is particularly ideal for screencasts. There is a video camera, but the video studio has more professional setup. They do training on using the booth at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. The booth is a reservable room. The Groundworks staff know a lot about Camtasia and can provide support if you hit any difficulties. This might be a good option for trying out making a few screencasts with support.

 

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