In a flipped classroom, the goal is to understand information rather than be presented with it. Teachers are tasked with presenting information before it will be discussed in the classroom. Once students have reviewed this information, they can have small group discussions regarding the content.
Some classrooms even introduce practice sessions to develop specific skills under the supervision and tutelage of the instructor.
Compared to classroom environments where lectures are the primary tool used to convey information, flipped classrooms can help students retain up to 80% more information. To achieve this result, many students must complete their homework before the classroom session begins.
Here are the pros and cons of a flipped classroom to think about when studying this new model of learning.
List of the Flipped Classroom Pros
1. It gives students more control over their learning.
Because the lecture portion of a flipped classroom is often viewed at home, students can learn on a schedule which works better for them. Lectures can be stopped to allow students a chance to do personal research on their own time. Specific points of a lecture can be heard multiple times to generate a greater understanding. It also provides students who may be struggling with the subject more time to get caught up on the material.
2. It improves classroom behavior.
Students disengage from lectures frequently and for a variety of reasons. The teacher may be presenting the information in a monotonous tone which is difficult to focus on. Some students may feel like they know the information already because it is too basic to meet their needs. Because a flipped classroom uses practical skill development and discussion for learning, more students are engaged by the process.
3. It promotes student collaboration.
With a flipped classroom is installed, there is more time for students to work on collaborative projects. There is also more time for in-class discussion. It creates an environment where a student is able to take charge of their own learning. They get to own the information and skills that get taken from the class. That process builds up student character.
4. It allows teachers to identify thinking errors.
In the traditional classroom environment, the only way for a teacher to identify thinking errors or inaccurate concept applications is through testing. Tests directly affect the grades of a student, so there is no ability to proactive correct these issues before it negatively impacts the student. Within a flipped classroom, the conversation dynamic allows teachers to identify, then correct, these issues early on in the learning process. Over the course of a semester, student grades can generally improve.
5. It provides more access to curriculum materials.
Many flipped classrooms provide information that is accessible with an internet or data connection. That allows students who might miss a class because of being sick or having other obligations to still be current with their work. This advantage works for teachers as well. If they are sick, they can direct students to focus on an online portion of the class for the day, preventing disruptions to the learning process.
6. It provides parents with more access to the curriculum.
Any parent knows the struggle it takes to gain access to the materials being taught in a student classroom. There is always tension in the parent/instructor relationship because of this uncertainty. Because the materials are posted online and available at all times, parents can be actively involved in the educational pursuits of their children. This allows parents to support the insights being promoted by the instructor.
7. It allows for the developed materials to be used repetitively.
Once the materials for a flipped classroom are developed, they can be used for future students in future semesters or teaching years. Evergreen content is a one-time front-end investment. Although this learning structure does place some pressure on teachers at the beginning, many teachers can get multiple years of support from their initial content investment.
8. It engages the teaching assistants and other school support staff.
Teaching assistants are often under-utilized in modern classrooms. Many schools task these professionals with behavior control. They do not know, or are unaware, of what the curriculum happens to be. By posting the teaching materials online for everyone to access, the support staff for a classroom can help with the student engagement process. That, in turn, helps students learn more effectively.
9. It still allows for quizzes and testing.
Many flipped classrooms use video-based content as their sole means of communication. It can be so much more than that. Instructors can upload sample quizzes to help students review the information they found online. Interactive documents still allow teachers to check for subject comprehension in real-time. Video calls allow for teachers to talk to their students about issues they may be facing in real-time as well.
List of the Flipped Classroom Cons
1. It usually requires technology access.
For the modern flipped classroom to work, students must have some level of technology access. There is no way to gain access to lectures or materials without a data connection and a computer or mobile device to use it. There are some work-arounds available, such as a printed transcript of a lecture or free library access. For students in low-income neighborhoods, who have limited resource access already, a flipped classroom may not be the right choice for learning.
2. It requires trust between teachers and students.
The only way a flipped classroom is able to function successfully is if the teacher and the student both fulfill their obligations to each other. Instructors must post useful information that can be used for in-class discussion. Students must view this information at home to participate in the discussions. There is no guarantee that either will cooperate with this learning model or participate in it
3. It requires a significant investment.
For a flipped classroom to work, teachers must develop the materials that will be posted online. These items must be developed before class begins, which means there is an extra load of responsibility placed on the shoulders of each teacher. It takes time, skill, and a willingness for this learning style to work for it to be successful from an instructional standpoint. Not every teacher may have the necessary time needed for this development process.
4. It may reduce the effectiveness of students on tests.
Tests are generally structured to measure the amount of information recall a student has on specific subjects. Most standardized tests are based on the standard lecture format of the traditional classroom. Information is provided by the instructor. The student must then memorize the information. For that reason, flipped classrooms tend to work better when practical skills are being taught, like when learning a new vocation.
5. It increases the amount of time students spend in front of a screen.
Some students learn more effectively when they do so through technology. Other students require hands-on learning to retain new information. Flipped classrooms do attempt to combine both options to help students understand better, no matter what their perspective may be. Sitting in front a computer to watch lectures or retain data, however, could have some side effects. It reduces student activities, exposes them to more blue light in the spectrum, and may encourage attention-deficit traits that make it hard for students to focus.
6. It does not account for parental influence.
Let’s say a flipped classroom is discussing the Civil War. The instructor talks about how slavery was a foundational element of the conflict in the United States. Then a parent sees the lecture and disagrees with what is being taught. The parent tells the student that the core reason for the Civil War was an issue about states’ rights, not slavery. Who is the student going to believe? Which opinion is correct? Parents who disagree with the educational materials can influence student learning in ways that are unpredictable, and could be harmful, if presented to the whole class in an open discussion.
7. It limits the direct feedback that teachers receive.
Non-verbal communication composes about 90% of how we understand one another. Even with video calls and other interactive technologies, teachers don’t receive the same real-time feedback through flipped classrooms as they would a traditional classroom. That makes it difficult to know if the videos and content being designed for a curriculum are going to be effective until the students begin to access the materials. There are fewer opportunities for teachers to adjust how they teach with this type of classroom environment.
These flipped classroom pros and cons show that a hands-on approach to learning could be very effective for some students. This style focuses on their success by helping them take ownership of their own learning. To be effective, students must be engaged in the information being taught, no matter what the subject materials happen to be. Without that engagement, no teaching style will be able to correct that situation.