The flipped-classroom model has become a popular trend in smaller higher education classes. It doesn’t work as well in a big lecture hall, but experiments at Columbia University may change that.
“Sitting in one of those 180-student classrooms is a very passive situation,” Maurice Matiz, executive director of the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, told Campus Technology. “We’ve found that students aren’t really learning very much.”
Matiz and his colleagues started with a biochemistry class of 180 students. Associate Professor Brent Stockwell created weekly slide presentations that included YouTube videos embedded into the online syllabus. On the syllabus page, a link was placed underneath the video player to a short quiz that counted toward the students’ final grade, forcing most to come better prepared for the class.
Stockwell added a polling service accessed from the students’ mobile devices, allowing them to respond to questions anonymously in real time. The class was also divided into groups to work on problems together.
The concept was then tried in a class of 250 taking a body, health, and disease course. Students viewed short lecture videos prior to class. The instructor used class time for discussions and polling students on their understanding of the concepts.
“On many levels, it was more satisfying than lecturing, where you don’t really know if the students are ‘getting it.’” said Rachel Gordon, who taught the course. “I hope that more teachers will take the plunge. It’s worth it.”