QuickWire: ‘Flipping’ Classrooms May Not Make Much Difference

In preliminary research, professors at Harvey Mudd College haven’t found that students learn more or more easily in so-called flipped courses than in traditional classes, USA Today reports. In flipped courses, students watch professors’ lectures online before coming to class, then spend the class period in discussions or activities that reinforce and advance the lecture material.

Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation gave four professors at the college in Claremont, Calif., a three-year grant for $199,544 to study flipped classrooms. That research isn’t complete yet, but the professors already tried flipping their own classes last year and found “no statistical difference” in student outcomes.

The article notes that flipping classes requires professors both to record lectures in advance and to come up with activities that will engage students in class sessions. Nancy Lape, a professor of engineering at Harvey Mudd, said instructors’ lives “might be easier and their students might be happier if they just do a traditional class.”

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