Archive for November 13, 2013

Why Flipping Classrooms Might Not Make Much Difference

This paper is getting a lot of discussion here at Georgia Tech:

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.

via QuickWire: ‘Flipping’ Classrooms May Not Make Much Difference – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The reason why it’s generating a lot of discussion is because we know that it can make a difference to flip a classroom.  Jason Day and Jim Foley here at Georgia Tech did a careful and rigorous evaluation of a flipped classroom seven years ago (see IEEE paper on their study).  We all know this study and take pride in it — it was really well done.  It can work.  The Harvey Mudd study also shows that it can be done in a way that it doesn’t work. 

That’s really the story for all educational technology.  It can work, but it’s not guaranteed to work.  It’s always possible to implement any educational technology (or any educational intervention at all) in such a way that it doesn’t work.

November 13, 2013 at 1:28 am 13 comments


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