Get Better Grades, Quicker and Easier, by Practicing

Jump the Pitfalls in Flipping Your College Success Course

If you are an instructor at the college level, you may have heard of, thought about and even tried Flipped Learning. The flipped courses my colleagues and I have delivered have helped 85% about 1 million young adults and teens succeed in learning subjects they found difficult. This has included math, English composition and public speaking, in addition to computer programming, electronics and criminal law. We have repeatedly faced some issues that you may be facing. Perhaps our experience will be of value to you.

First, a definition of Flipped Learning: In a flipped classroom, the primary activity of the learners is studying using videos and books, and then practicing—writing, reciting, solving–until the lesson has been mastered. Only then does the learner move on to the next lesson.

Issue 1 Grades: If almost all my students master my course, do I have to give them A’s? No. In most colleges you’ll be accused of currying favor with your students by grading too generously. Consider giving a competitive test at the end, similar to the final you would give in an ordinary course. Since most students have mastered the course, this test needs to be more difficult than usual. Here are some other alternatives. You could award A’s to those who finished the course quickest or who helped others the most. Perhaps a better approach, if you are up to the extra work, would be to grade your students on the basis of a “portfolio” they present on how they have used what they learned in your course in their other courses.

Issue 2 Creating Videos: Do I have to create videos to deliver my course? No. Flipped learning works because class time is devoted to studying and practicing. This format allows students to practice to mastery on each lesson before going to the next. You can use a textbook as the primary instructional device. You might also find a series of videos available in your subject at an affordable price. If you use both videos and a textbook, the little research I have found suggests that most students will quickly discover a preference for the book over the videos. I think this is because they read at 200 words per minute or more and the narration in a video is about 120 words per minutes or less. The book is also more readily accessed later for review.

Hey. I’m paying you to teach me! It has surprised me that instructors often tell me that some students want to sit back and be taught rather than having to study in a flipped class. Here’s my suggestion on what to say to such students:

Learning is a change in your brain that enables you to do something you could not do before. The only way to cause those changes is for you to practice doing what you are trying to learn to do. This is true whether you are learning to ride a bicycle, write short stories or solve calculus problems. My role is to coach you, encourage you, and help you do that practice.

Try It, You’ll Like It

If you try flipping, you’ll like it. So will your students. You and they will have more fun along the way and get outstanding results. Mastery is motivating. Flipping is about the only practical approach to delivering Mastery to most of your students.

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