Aug 15 2012

Why Flipped Classrooms Work for Students

A break from the traditional classroom could be just what students need.

Using the flipped-classroom concept works because students can learn at their own pace, says Paul Golisch, dean of information technology at Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona.

Golisch teaches developmental education classes in math, which provides students with the basic math skills they need to take college-level math.

"If they just need a refresher, they may be bored by a 30- to 45-minute lecture, so they can just spend five minutes on it, while other students may take more time and need one or two hours to watch the video lessons," he says.

Before class, Golisch checks homework that students completed online, and if it appears that they have not grasped a concept, he will go over the material with them. He then assigns more difficult math problems and breaks the students into small groups so they can work on the problems together. He then moves around the room to make sure everyone is on task and to help them if they get stuck.

After Golisch introduced the flipped-classroom model at Paradise Valley, about a handful of his fellow faculty members decided to run pilots in their classes.

Overall, Golisch sees three benefits of the flipped classroom: First, he uses free online videos and textbooks, which are less expensive to students. Second, he and his students get to know each other through group activities; students then form study groups outside of class to help each other. Third, and most important, many students are learning more.

"Having to take two or three courses before they can take a college-level course is a long journey. If they start and are not loving it, they just don't succeed and may drop out. It's a big hurdle," he says. "By flipping the classroom, they learn the material better. They often enjoy it more and are more engaged."

Read more about the flipped classroom in higher education.

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