CTL: Center for Teaching and Learning

Flipped Classrooms

Written by Rachel Jameton


In a Flipped Classroom, the initial introduction to new content is done through short videos and readings online prior to the class meeting. Class time can then be reserved for working with and applying the new content in a variety of ways.

Faculty flip their classes for a variety of reasons such as:

  • making time for activities that foster critical thinking skills during class.
  • better understanding how students engage with the material.
  • promoting independent learning.
  • levelling the playing field for struggling students.
  • increasing student engagement during the class.
  • making classes more interesting and less frustrating for everyone.


Suggestions for adopting a flipped classroom

The following ideas and suggestions were collected during workshops with LCSC faculty that have adopted flipped classrooms.

Help students buy-in to the flipped classroom

  • Include learning outcomes in the syllabus related to independent learning and critical thinking and explain why you care about these skills
  • Be clear about how the class is structured in the syllabus
  • Provide incentive for doing pre-class assignments
  • Explain it multiple times (or don’t tell them at all)
  • Relate the process to future job skills and applications

Provide opportunity for first exposure to content prior to class, usually through Blackboard.

In order to make pre-class assignments work, it is important to realize that not all students are comfortable with the independent work required of them, and may not have significant experience with it. Part of your job is to help them learn skills to be able to successfully do independent work. There are many ways to make the assignments accessible to all of your students, here are a few ideas:

  • Provide a range of material types for preparation including video and readings.
  • Start with small, accessible pre-class assignments (3-5 minute videos, short readings) and build up
  • Use student questions submitted prior to class to prepare for class

Assess understanding prior to the class meeting.

Assessment of understanding prior to the class serves two conflicting purposes. First, it is a way to determine what students have been able to learn independently and what is still challenging to them. Second, it provides incentive by giving the student a bit of credit for doing the assignment. There is tension in grading a pretest, where enough weight is needed to make it important, but not so much that students do not feel able to honestly show what they are able to do and what they still need help doing. Experimentation and communication with your students is necessary to find the balance.

The pre-class assignments are often quizzes in various forms because they can be quickly looked over prior to a class. Some suggestions for pre-class assignments are:

  • Short quiz questions as part of a video (see https://edpuzzle.com/)
  • Short quiz at the beginning of class
  • Blackboard quizzes prior to class
  • Reflections and surveys prior to class

Look at the assignments prior to class and then respond to the class accordingly.

Some of the ways of responding take more time, and some take less. Here are some ideas:

Less time


More time

  • Look over surveys or quiz results
  • Check off work when students enter class
  • Blackboard quizzes
  • In-class discussions and activities that can “self-level”


  • Answering individual student questions in class
  • Revising some parts of class based on student responses
  • Grading individual assignments or reflections
  • Developing classes entirely based on student responses to pre-class assignments


Offer productive in-class activities that are the pay-off for preparing for class.

Some of the in-class work may be answering and responding to student questions. However, the real pay-off is being able to facilitate activities in which students can work with new information at higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the critical thinking levels.  A few examples of in-class activities are:

  • Productive class discussion
    • Case studies
    • Students teaching each other
    • Workshopping
    • Experiential learning
    • Working on problems
      • Challenge problems in groups
      • Creating problem sets in groups
      • Working on problem sets from conceptual to application (a learning cycle)
  • Simulations and role-play
  • Community building activities
  • Group presentations/peer-led teaching


Leave time for reflection, and maybe assign additional work to reinforce learning

Some faculty incorporate a metacognitive step into the class meeting while others leave it to be done independently after class.  In any case, an ending reflection is an important step in organizing and making sense of learning.

There are a wide range of additional assignments that faculty assign for after class, and some simply go on to the next lesson. Here are a few assignments that faculty use:

  • Follow up problems
  • Challenge problems
  • Applications
  • Writing rules for examples
  • Higher level thinking assignments


Further reading