Two Great Techniques for the Flipped Classroom

In an article on Campus Technology Julie Schell, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas at Austin, shares her favorite techniques for the flipped classroom.

One of the techniques that Julie talks about is just-in-time teaching, a technique for getting students to prepare before coming to class. With the students prepared before class, Julie uses the beginning of class to ask the students two “conceptual questions” about the material and one “feedback question.”

Julie uses the conceptual questions as a means to direct the thinking of the students, but says that the “secret sauce” is the feedback questions when she asks questions based on the student’s response to a conceptual question. By using this method Julie is able to get a sense of student misconceptions of the course content.

The other technique that is discussed in the article is peer-instruction. Developed at Harvard, peer-instruction follows a series of steps:

  1. The instructor gives a “mini lecture,” a brief introduction to a topic
  2. Students are asked a question related to the topic that expands their thinking
  3. Each student chooses an answer individually and moves into peer discussion to try to convince a fellow student of the rightness of his or her response
  4. The student responds to the same question again
  5. The correct answer is shared by the faculty member
  6. Students are invited to share why they chose the answer they did — right or wrong
  7. A longer explanation is provided

Julie insists that none of the steps can be skipped. Also, Julie says that students should discuss their answers with another student who disagrees with them. “You want a rich conversation, and to get that you need to create some dissonance.” She also states that students are more likely to come forward when they already know they are wrong, so she shares the correct answers with the students before she asks them to explain their thinking.

With these two techniques in hand, you’re already on your way to flipping your classroom.