Friday, April 22, 2016

Three Critical Conversations Started and Sustained by Flipped Learning

The flipped learning model of instruction has begun to make the transition from an educational buzzword to a normative practice among many university instructors, and with good reason. Flipped learning provides many benefits for both faculty and students. However, instructors who use flipped learning soon find out that a significant amount of work is sometimes necessary to win students over to this way of conducting class. Even when the benefits of flipped learning are made clear to students, some of them will still resist. And to be fair, many instructors fail to listen to what students are really saying.

Most student “complaints” about flipped learning conceal important questions about teaching and learning that are brought to the surface because of the flipped environment. Here are three common issues raised by students and the conversation-starters they afford. 

Student comment: “I wish you would just teach the class.” 

Conversation-starter: Why do we have classes? 

This issue is often raised once it becomes clear that class time will focus on assimilating information, not transmitting it. For many students, the only kind of instruction they have ever known is the in-class lecture, so it is quite natural for them to conflate “teaching” and “lecturing”. Hence, students are perhaps justifiably unsettled to see their teacher not “teaching”. When students raise this concern, it is an opportunity to have a conversation about why classes meet—or for that matter, why they exist—in the first place. 

When students want the professor to “just teach”, the professor can pose the following: We can either have lecture on basic information in class, and then you will be responsible for the harder parts yourselves outside of class; or we can make the basic information available for you prior to class, and spend our class time making sense of the harder parts. There is not enough class time for both. Which setup will help you learn better? 

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