Flipped Learning: What is the point?

This is not a critique of flipped learning.  Without flipped learning I would never have tried the things stated below, and would therefore never have used my experiences to make adjustments.

What I am doing now:

  1. ask students to front-load information by watching videos (made by others, or myself) at home
  2. work though a concept development pack to build understanding (start with a “simple” problem, build to more and more complex problems)
  3. assign work/labs that serves as practice
  4. test them (require 75% or higher to progress)

The issue with this order: students may watch videos, but won’t take any form of notes, so they have nothing to reference in class but their hazy memory of a 10 min youtube video. (And yes, I have considered “grading” their viewership, but think that sends the wrong message about the videos)  On top of that problem, I’m also trying out the self-paced mastery model.  So some students blow through that work in 2.5 days while others struggle to get it done in 5.

What I want to add to the mix:

  1. more time discussing topics aloud, in groups…
  2. more time dealing directly with misconceptions

The big question: Why am I having students watch videos before we do any of this?  If I want to discuss misconceptions, why would I have them watch clarifying videos first?  Wouldn’t students then memorize what is in the videos so they seem to have NO misconceptions?  Despite what some students say they really do want to impress teachers with their knowledge.  And then there is the problem of students misunderstanding what’s in the video!  And memorizing misinformation!


  1. discuss misconceptions through use of demos and q&a sessions (I ask q’s, they provide a’s)
  2. have students work on conceptual development packet to build understanding
  3. give students the option to watch videos online (maybe I won’t make one until I really really have to…)
  4. have students do some practice work and labs
  5. take test

…and all students going through this at the same pace.  This sort of goes against a philosophical belief I hold, that students should learn at their own pace, but for my sanity I think I need to simplify things.

Ultimate goal: do modeling instruction in physics.  Have students use direct investigation to gather new concepts, and use data and these concepts to build models (equations, theorems, etc.) for the laws of physics. 

The flipped learning model has served is purpose it would seem.  And the purpose, as I see it, is to free up more class time for things other than lecture.  I rarely lecture, even in my AP classes, and have had time to experiment with new assignments, assessments, and delivery styles.  Any good scientist will continuously evaluate how an experiment is going as it happens, and make changes.  As I move through this flipped learning experiment I feel it is time to make some changes, reorder what I do, and assess the damage… er… progress.

Moving to the Modeling Instruction framework is out of the question for this year.  It requires a very structured environment, a specific set of equipment, and tons of planning.  Not the type of thing to jump into second semester.  But with nine to ten months to plan, and maybe some clever resourcing, I can get the ball rolling next year.  For the time being I will try out the new ordering of activities stated above.  Who knows, if that works well I may just stick with that!

I think I’ll leave things like that for now.  Any more time think about this stuff and I’ll consider throwing out grades and just doing projects or something…

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