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Making the flip: Amy Hogan’s first flipped class

flipped

Dr. Amy Hogan, Assistant Professor of Psychology, has been implementing flipped instruction for the first time in her classroom, with her Life Span Human Development class. Flipped instruction is a teaching model that introduces new material to students outside of class so that class time can be dedicated to the application of the material. To read more about flipped instruction click here.

 Why flip?

In the past, Hogan has always strived to make her in-class lectures engaging by including discussion and YouTube videos. “But what I found before,” she said, “was that sometimes there’s a difficult balance to be had between delivering new content and then doing the application of it.” Feedback from her students confirmed these observations.

After taking a class on flipped instruction this summer led by Teaching and Learning Technologies, Hogan thought that a flipped classroom would help to solve her problem. In a traditional classroom, homework typically includes activities in which students apply the new information they received during class. But, as Hogan has found, that is typically when they need the most help. “I thought it’d be a really good idea to change that. [In a flipped classroom] the basics of the content are outside of the classroom, and then we can spend more time in the classroom on the higher forms of cognitive learning: application, analysis, and activity.”

Preparing students for the flip

Hogan included a short explanation about flipped instruction under “Course Set-Up” in her syllabus, as well as a paragraph explaining her reasons for making the change. Refer to the bottom of this post to view the excerpt from Hogan’s syllabus. In addition, she shared a list of the pros and cons to flipped instruction on the first day of class via a PowerPoint slide, shown below:

Intro to students - Flipped

Students’ response

Hogan asked her students for midterm feedback on the flipped format via Moodle. She anticipated some pushback from students about the heavier workload, but instead was pleasantly surprised. Some excerpts from the written feedback were:

  • “I feel like I’m learning a lot more than a typical lecture class because the activities and assignments keep me on top of my work.”
  • “I’m really enjoying the flipped format because it is getting me to think about the material in a creative way.”
  • “It’s helping me to remember the information better because I associate what we’re learning with the unique way that I learned it. Just learning something from a PowerPoint slide does not stick as well as learning in relation to an activity.”

Any downsides?

The primary disadvantage to flipped instruction that Hogan has experienced is longer prep time. However, as she continues teaching this course and building her database of screencasts, interactive presentations, and videos, this will decrease.

She also notes that flipped instruction requires a shift in thinking that can take some time to adjust to. “We’re used to thinking of our role as a lecturer as just delivering information. You have to change your thinking to ‘I’m there to facilitate learning rather than to provide content.’”

What’s next?

Not only is this Hogan’s first time flipping a class, but it is also her first time teaching this particular class. “It’s been a bit of a learning curve,” she said. However, she will be teaching it again in the spring. “Once I’ve gone through the course, I’ll know what’s coming. I’m planning on creating a lot more screencasts, and interactive presentations.” This way, homework will be more engaging than just reading assignments from the textbook.

Hogan is already working on building a library of screencasts by assigning one to each of her students for their final exam. She is doing this for all three of her psychology classes this semester, so that future students will be learning from a database of screencasts created by other students.

Though Hogan does not have a screencast for her Life Span Human Development class yet, she does have one that she made for her summer course on flipped instruction called “Sensation vs. Perception” to share:

To make screencasts, Hogan uses Screencast-O-Matic. To read more about this easy, screen-capturing program, click here. She also plans on experimenting with Mozilla PopcornMaker to create interactive presentations for her students. Information on PopcornMaker can be found at this link.

Any advice for other faculty members considering the flip?

“I would say go for it,” she responded. “I think it’s been a really positive experience so far.” Keeping students interested is a prevailing challenge, especially during longer periods, such as the hour and forty minute classes at Elon. Hogan has found flipped instruction to help with that. “Getting the students engaged during class time is always going to improve learning.”

Excerpt from Dr. Hogan’s Course Syllabus:

Course Set-up:

Class time will primarily consist of short lectures, discussions and in-class activities (based on textbook readings and other assigned resources). Doing well in this class depends on regular attendance and class participation. This course will mostly follow a “flipped instruction” format – that is, the lesson is delivered to students as homework (i.e. reading the textbook), and during class, students spend less time passively listening and more time actively applying the concepts. Most classes will include some form of class activity. Each student is expected to come to class having read the assigned readings and be ready to participate actively (expect some small group work and some individual work).  Each student is personally accountable for their own learning and growth in this class. I will serve as a mediator for that to happen, but as such, your participation inside and outside of class is essential.

Why I flipped:

During traditional class time, I like to provide many opportunities for students to apply what they are learning to the real world. I usually accomplish this by bringing in examples from the popular media (songs, YouTube videos, bad reality TV clips, etc) to show how theoretical principles in psychology apply in everyday settings. I sometimes find it difficult to balance delivering content and also having time for the application and following discussion. Some lectures can be application heavy and not enough content. By providing my students with an opportunity to cover the basics outside of the classroom, flipping will enable me to spend more time on the higher forms of cognitive work (application, analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation) in class.

The “Flipped” image source can be found here.

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