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In an inverted, or flipped, classroom, the initial introduction to new content is through short online videos and readings prior to a synchronous class meeting. Class meetings can then focus on the important and harder work of developing higher level thinking skills. The inverted class is a great way to make time in your classes for the skills and content you care about teaching, but they do require careful planning and a time investment.
Faculty invert their classes for a variety of reasons such as:
The following ideas and suggestions were collected during workshops with LCSC faculty across campus that have tried an inverted format.
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. You can help your students learn skills to be able to successfully do independent work. Here are a few approaches:
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, some quizzes and some not, are:
Some of the ways of looking at the assignments and responding take more time, and some take less. Here are some ideas:
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 practice their critical thinking skills. A few examples of in-class activities are:
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:
During Summer 2020, when many faculty were designing classes for a fall semester in which the mode of delivery was uncertain due to COVID-19, inverted classes experienced a resurgence in popularity. They offered a way to provide a consistent introduction to course material that could then be supported by online, mixed-modality, or in-person classes.
From anecdotal evidence, students seemed more amenable than usual to the inverted format in Fall 2020, perhaps having experienced the sudden switch to remote teaching in Spring 2020. However, it is important to reinforce to students that an inverted class is a synchronous class whether class time is face-to-face or remotely. It is not intended to be a "flex" class or one in which students engage only in the asynchronous prep work. Indeed, the most important work happens synchronously.