An ongoing study by professors at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., has found the flipped classroom model may be an ineffective practice. But UF professors are defending the practice.
In a flipped classroom, the learning experience is swapped from the traditional style, giving students online lectures at home and real, homework-type problems during class.
The study is still in its early stages, but student surveys had mixed feelings about the new model, according to USA Today.
“After students solve some problems at home, it gives depth to my class,” said Meera Sitharam, UF associate professor of computer and information science and engineering. Students are able to prepare themselves at home so class time can be used working out problems that need clarification, she said.
UF assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Gloria Kim likes the flipped teaching style and said it promotes active learning that gets students more engaged.
“They can pause lectures, whereas if they were live, they couldn’t,” she said. “They can replay it until they fully understand and then ask questions in class.”
Even as a supporter of the model, Sitharam acknowledges there is improvement to be made to ensure students watch lectures.
“Without my whole class watching, I have no firm ground to stand on,” she said. “Without a foundation, I cannot teach the entire class together.”
For the system to work, Sitharam said, students must be disciplined.
“I had one student who came to me and told me it was too much work, and she didn’t like it at all,” she said. “I also had one kid who basically took charge of his own learning, which was the idea behind this at the beginning.”
John Corring, a 26-year-old UF graduate student and teaching assistant for Applications of Discrete Structures, is a former student of Sitharam’s flipped theory of computing class.
“The thing I liked the most about it was that it encouraged us to explore it on our own,” he said. “Also, working the problems over in class was sort of like a sanity check.”
Both Sitharam and Kim plan to try the model again with minor improvements. Sitharam plans to implement quizzes while also formalizing online peer interaction forums to encourage students to watch the online lectures.
“I am not giving up on it by no means,” Sitharam said. “I think this should be tried again.”
A version of this story ran on page 1 on 10/24/2013 under the headline "UF professors firm on support of flipped classrooms"