Getting Students to say “Flip this Content”!

Looking to strengthen students’ ability to apply theory to real world situations?Need more in-class time to teach students how to problem solve? Want students to say: “flip this content”? Prof. Anthony Duva has flipped select course content for several years and totally flipped his Design of Machine Elements course content since 2016. Students can resist this non-tradition approach so Anthony follows a particular process that results in students saying: “flip this class” by week 3.

Start day one declaring your intent: you are open to changing your teaching style based on student input. The result, a collaborative learning environment that students help shape.

Key 1:  Choose a textbook with adaptive learning – pick the right book, assign a section for students to read, the online text has built in concept questions that students have to complete and it sends students back into reading until they pass, allowing them to move onto next module. Many new text books have adaptive content and grading online offered through Pearson, McGraw and Wiley that integrates directly with Blackboard.

Key 2:  Set up Gateways in the Learning Process – create quizzes and assignments with graded concept questions with multiple choice, students can re-take a few times with randomized questions until they’ve mastered the content (low stakes assessments). This can be done directly on Blackboard or through the publishers online content.

Key 3: Start with Traditional Lecture – Week 1 — First class go through the assigned material in class, a regular chalk and talk. Make the reading and quiz due next class. Let students know you will keep doing what you’re doing and that you’re open to changing your style based on student input. Your intent is to have a collaborative learning environment. End of week 2 make material you’ll cover in class (reading, quiz) homework. Then go through that material in class as before, while budgeting more time in class for students to work through problem solving individually and in small groups. Week 3 make the reading with mastery questions and quiz due the night before class. At this point when you start to go over the materials in class, you’ll hear students say you’re repeating what we just read, we don’t want to hear it, we want to go right into the problems. make it students’ idea…that’s the key!

Key 4: Be Flexible – this approach doesn’t work for every class, you may need to switch back from application to content depending on the topic. Instead of lecturing, focus on what students didn’t understand. Flipping content works well with more project based classes, case studies, and real world problems. You don’t have to record all of your lectures, just be ready to start doing problems in the classroom.

Key 5: Listen to Students –  Student feedback is very positive, they really liked it, felt they had better grasp of learning, and learned more by application rather than theory. You always have students that struggle, refuse to do the reading, blow off quizzes, and fall behind. Peer pressure helps encourage them to learn and teaches students how to learn so they are better prepared for necessary life long learning when they enter industry. It’s a joint effort between the teacher and student, with students giving input, doing reading on their own and problem solving in class. Students are working on Blackboard or the publisher adaptive release problems in class. We do some together on the board, I field questions using bits and pieces of my normal chalk and talk lectures based on the questions asked. Some topics you’ll need to teach twice so students read, see, do a few times.

Key 5: Start Small – Don’t try to do it all at once, start by flipping a chunk of content. If you teach sections of a course with other faculty, try to collaborate with other faculty and split up building case studies to spread workload for course. You can encounter resistance from other faculty in picking the right text with online content if teaching multiple sections. Flipping content is more challenging if  you have to create content in Bb instead of leveraging online adaptive release content from publishers. It can be built on Blackboard, it just takes more time to create quizzes and make the content release after students achieve a level of mastery.

Key 6: Track Results – Student outcomes improved and as students became more application based and adept at applying theory to real world situations. The class average went up from Fall 2015 to 2016 approximately 5 points, maybe more on exams, with a better flow and set up of problems and the chance to do more problems.

Any advice? For faculty, it requires a level of technical savvy using the Blackboard course and linking the publisher’s enabling technology like electronic books and with Blackboard.

Feel free to reach out to Anthony to talk further about his methods and experience!