Flip instruction: Jeff Carpenter seeks to create a more engaging classroom environment

Jeff Carpenter headshot.Jeff Carpenter, assistant professor of education, is working to create more engaging, collaborative classroom environments through flipped instruction.

Flipped instruction, or a flipped classroom, is a pedagogical model in which a professor reverses his or her usual lecture and homework components in a class. For example, a faculty member who practices flip teaching typically introduces a new concept or topic by asking students to view short video lectures or to read course materials outside of class. Then, in-class time is devoted to discussions and engaged learning.

MORE: Learn more about flipped instruction by reading The Flipped Classroom FAQ (CIRTL Network).

As for Carpenter, he not only employs this model of teaching in his education courses but also introduces the flipped instruction concept to his students, who are preparing to be high school teachers.

“My philosophy is I must use most of class time for learning that benefits from the face-to-face presence of 10 to 33 students,” he said. “If an activity or type of learning can be done outside of class, why use too much of that precious face-to-face class time for it?”

Typically, Carpenter assigns outside readings to his students, and then, they facilitate small or large group discussions in class. These conversations can be informal or formal; if more formal, they mirror student-run seminars with rules and requirements for participation.

“I think I was always trying to flip to an extent [by] trying to have students do simpler learning independently at home and then building on that with discussions in class,” Carpenter said. “[Flipping] simply aligns with my philosophy of teaching and learning. I want a classroom where students are bouncing ideas off each other and co-constructing deep knowledge.”

Carpenter’s students are required to create one screencast apiece, too, to share with their peers. After they create their videos, they teach a chunk of class using the material in their screencasts.

Carpenter also posted screencasts, or on-screen narration recordings, on YouTube for a couple of his classes to provide supplementary writing instruction to his students.

“None of my classes have explicit student learning goals related to writing, so I cannot justify spending large chunks of class time on writing instruction, but I also feel it is important, and I want to maintain high writing standards,” he said. “Thus, I have the screencasts available as an option for those who feel like they want or need a little more writing instruction from me.”

MORE: Read more about flipped instruction from Turn to your Neighbor – the Official Peer Instruction Blog.

Though Carpenter utilizes other pedagogical methods, too, his students seem to enjoy his flipped components.

“I don’t think most of my students would say they want a 100 percent flipped environment where I never stand before them and provide more traditional looking instruction,” he said. “But, I think my students appreciate not listening to me talk for our entire one hour, 40 minute class sessions. They have lots of opportunities to talk with their peers in my classes and [to] hear various perspectives.”

If you are interested in flipping portions of your own course and would like to learn more about this model of teaching, contact Teaching and Learning Technologies at 336.278.5006 or tlt@elon.edu.

Sam Parker

Sam Parker

Sam Parker is a Marketing Student Writer Intern with Elon University's Teaching and Learning Technologies.

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