What does it mean to flip a classroom?

In order to plan how to structure the class—and to make sure we’re supporting our learning goals—we’d like to understand what it means to “flip” a classroom. Ideally, we’d like to find (or develop, if necessary) a framework that can help us identify the key structural features of such a class so we can choose the ones that mesh with our learning goals and compare what we’re doing to what others have done.

We’ve begun a review of the literature, and our current reading list is at the bottom of this post; we’d love suggestions for any references you’ve found helpful.

Flipped Classrooms, Part 1

Some references have claimed that the term “flipped classroom” was originally created, used, or popularized by Bergmann and Sams (e.g., Bergmann & Sams, 2008), who “flipped” their high school chemistry class. But a quick skim of the literature makes it look like versions of flipped classrooms have been around for a many years. For example, Eric Mazur’s Peer Instruction methods (e.g., Crouch & Mazur, 2001) have been going strong for several decades.

Blended Learning

A few of the references have referred to “flipped classrooms” as a particular type of blended learning. However, Bluic, Goodyear and Ellis (2007) note that “blended learning” is not a well-defined term. It appears to usually refer to pedagogical techniques that mix traditional face-to-face teaching with on-line teaching; the Sloan Consortium specifies: “30-79% of content is delivered on-line.” Others have described it as a “mix of different didactic methods… and delivery formats.”

With such broad definitions, it doesn’t seem like conceptualizing a flipped classroom as a type of blended classroom would provide a useful framework for characterizing and understanding the things we’re interested in. (However, if anybody knows of helpful research, we’d love to hear about it!)

Flipped Classrooms, Part 2

At first glance, it appears that most people writing about “flipped” classrooms make two assumptions about traditional classes:

  1. In-class time consists of delivering content via lecture
  2. Out-of-class time consists of working on homework problems. These could be practicing techniques or some more involved type of problem-solving

With these assumptions, it appears that “flipping” a classroom is focused on a time-shift: most of the content delivery occurs outside of the classroom (via reading a textbook or watching videos) and most of the working-on-problems occurs during class time.

However, we’re not sure that it’s quite that simple. Various instructors have used a wide range of techniques during class: lecturing, clicker questions, recapping the reading, reading quizzes, working on traditional homework problems, group activities, and research projects. Similarly instructors have employed a wide variety of out-of-class assignments: reading a textbook, reading lecture notes, watching video lectures, warm-up assignments, reading questions/quizzes, traditional homework, and working on longer/group projects.

Three Issues

Training For the Out-Of-Class Activity

One aspect of flipping a classroom that we suspect is important—yet wasn’t discussed in much detail in the articles we’ve read so far—is the importance of training students to do the out-of-class work. There is a reasonable amount of research that suggests students struggle to read and understand math texts; how can we help them read productively (or do any other out-of-class assignments productively)?

Bridging In-Class and Out-Of-Class

Another potentially significant consideration in flipping a classroom is the role of bridging the in-class and out-of-class activities. Our hunch is that students struggle to connect what they’ve done outside of class to what they’re doing in-class (as well as connecting things from day-to-day and week-to-week). How, then, can we help them make these connections?

Focus on Content

Much of the discussion of flipped and blended classes seems to be about changing the timing or medium of content delivery. For those of us who came of [research] age in the context of the NCTM standards, I’m wondering how we might thinking about the role of mathematical processes (e.g., the NCTM process standards—http://www.nctm.org/standards/content.aspx?id=322) in a flipped classroom.

Searching For a Framework

We don’t yet have a framework to make sense of all of the things that might occur in a flipped classroom. But here is our first attempt at a potential structure for thinking about how to set up and employ a flipped classroom model; we’d love to hear other opinions and suggestions!

Flipped Class Framework

Current Reference/Reading List

  • Bergmann J. & Sams, A. (2008). Remixing chemistry class. Learning & Leading with Technology, December, 22-27.
  • Bluic, A.-M., Goodyear, P., & Ellis, R. A. (2007). Research focus and methodological choices in studies into students’ experiences of blended learning in higher education. Internet and Higher Education 10, 231-244.
  • Brown, B. W. & Liedholm, C. E. (2004) Student preferences in using online learning resources. Quality in Higher Education. 11 (1), 56-67.
  • Chandra, V., & Fisher, D. L. (2009). Students’ perceptions of a blended web-based learning environment. Learning Environments Research, 12, 31–44.
  • Crouch, C. H. and E. Mazur. 2001. Peer instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics. 69(9): 970–977.
  • Day, J. (2008). Investigating Learning With Web Lectures. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation.
  • Demetry, C. Work in Progress – An Innovation Merging “Classroom Flip” and Team-Based Learning. 2010
  • Deslauriers, L. (2011). Improved learning in a large-enrollment physics class. Science 332, 862-864.
  • Donnelly, R. (2010). Harmonizing technology with interaction in blended problem-based learning. Computers & Education, 54, 350–359.
  • Elen, J., & Clarebout, G. (2001). An invasion in the classroom: Influence of an ill-structured innovation on instructional and epistemological beliefs. Learning Environments Research, 4, 87–105.
  • Fraser, B. J. (1998). Classroom environment instruments: Development, validity and applications. Learning Environments Research, 1, 7–34.
  • Frederickson, N., Reed, P., & Clifford, V. (2005). Evaluating web-supported learning versus lecture-based teaching: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Higher Education, 50, 645-664.
  • Frydenberg, M. 2012. Flipping Excel. In Proceedings of the Information Systems Educators Conference. New Orleans, LA.
  • Gannod, G.C., Burge, J.E. and Helmick, M.T. (2008). Using the inverted classroom to teach software engineering. Proceedings of the 30th international conference on Software engineering, Leipzig, Germany, 10-18 May 2008.
  • Garrison, D. R., & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. Internet and Higher Education, 7(2), 95–105.
  • Ginns, P., & Ellis, R. (2007). Quality in blended learning: Exploring the relationships between on-line and face-to-face teaching and learning. Internet and Higher Education, 10(1), 53–64.
  • Graham, C. R. (2006). Blended learning systems. Definitions, current trends and future directions. In C. J. Bonk & C. R. Graham (Eds.), The handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs (pp. 3−21). San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
  • Hamdan, N., McKnight P., McKnight K., and Arfstrom K. A Review of Flipped Learning. Flipped Learning Network 2013.
  • Jelfs, A., Nathan, R., & Barrett, C. (2004). Scaffolding students: Suggestions on how to equip students with the necessary skills for studying in a blended learning environment. Journal of Educational Media, 29(2), 85−95.
  • Kellogg, S. (2009) Developing Online Materials to Facilitate an Inverted Classroom Approach. 39th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference.
  • Lage, M. J., Platt, G. J., & Treglia, M. (2000). Inverting the classroom: A gateway to creating an inclusive learning environment. Journal of Economic Education, 31, 30-43.
  • Lockwood, K. and Esselstein, R. The Inverted Classroom and the CS Curriculum. Proceeding of the 44th ACM technical symposium on Computer science education. 2013.
  • McConnell, D. (2005) Examining the dynamics of networked e-learning groups and communities. Studies in Higher Education. 30 (1), 25-42.
  • McGicney-Burelle, Jean and Xue, Fei. Flipping Calculus. PRIMUS, 23(5): 477–486, 2013
  • Moravec, M., Williams, A., Aguilar-Roca, N. and O’Dowd DK (2010). Learn before lecture: a strategy that improves learning outcomes in a large introductory biology class. CBE Life Sciences Education, 9, 4, (December 21, 2010), 473- 481. DOI= 10.1187/cbe.10-04-0063
  • Nijhuis, J. F. H., Segers, M. S. R., & Gijselaers, W. H. (2005). Influence of redesigning a learning environment on student perceptions and learning strategies. Learning Environments Research, 8, 67-93.
  • Novak, G., E. Patterson, A. Gavrin, and W. Christian. 1999. Just-in-time- teaching: Blending Active Learning with web Technology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Pinder-Grover, T., Green, K. R., & Millunchick, J. M. (2011). The efficacy of screencasts to address the diverse academic needs of students in a large lecture course. Advances in Engineering Education, Winter, 1-28.
  • Pintrich, P. R., De Groot, E. V. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology 82(1), 33-40.
  • Prince, M. (2004). Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223-231.
  • Salmon, G. (2005) Flying not flapping: A strategic framework for e-learning and pedagogical innovation in higher education institutions. ALT-J, Research in Learning Technology, 13 (3), 201-218.
  • Sharpe, R., Benfield, G., Roberts, G., & Francis, R. (2006). The undergraduate experience of blended e-learning: A review of UK literature and practice. The higher education academy. Retrieved on 10th of November, 2006 from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk
  • So, H.-J., & Brush, T. A. (2008). Student perceptions of collaborative learning, social presence and satisfaction in a blended learning environment: Relationships and critical factors. Computers & Education, 51, 318–336.
  • Strayer, Jeremy. How learning in an inverted classroom influences cooperation, innovation and task orientation. Learning Environ Res (2012) 15: 171-193
  • Strayer, Jeremy. The effects of the classroom flip on the learning environment: a comparison of learning activity in a traditional classroom and a flip classroom that used an intelligent tutoring system (Dissertation, 2007)
  • Toto, R. and H. Nguyen. 2009. Flipping the work design in an industrial engineering course. In Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference. San Antonio, TX.
  • Warter-Perez, N. and J. Dong. 2012. Flipping the classroom: How to embed enquiry and design projects into a digital engineering lecture. In Proceedings of the 2012 ASEE Section Conference. San Luis Obispo, CA: Cal Poly.
  • Wasserman, N. H., Norris, S., & Carr, T. (2013). Comparing a “flipped” instructional model in an undergraduate calculus III course. RUME Conference.


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2 responses to “What does it mean to flip a classroom?

  1. Vincent Knight suggested another paper for the reference list: “The inverted classroom in a large enrolment introductory physics course: a case study” by Bates & Galloway (http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/stem-conference/PhysicalSciences/Simon_Bates_Ross_Galloway.pdf)

  2. Pingback: Reviewing the Research on Flipped Classrooms | mathflip

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