If you’ve been a student or educator within the last ten years, you might have taught or learned in a “flipped” classroom, where students study the basics of the material at home and spend their class time in collaborative groups, and teachers serve more as moderators than lecturers.
There’s a lot to like about this model, but there’s no denying that it takes a lot of work to pull off. To successfully “flip” a classroom, a teacher usually has to arrange study materials for students to work on at home, like recorded lectures and PowerPoint presentations, and then design lesson plans that encourage critical thinking and teamwork and can be carried out in an hour. It makes sense that teachers want to know before trying it: does any of it actually make a difference?
The short answer is, yes. It’s difficult to objectively assess teaching methods, and there isn’t much hard data on flipped classrooms yet. But, this new model has shown notable improvement over traditional classrooms in three basic dimensions:
- Academics. One instructor at Washington College cut his biology class’s failure rate from 17% to just 4% after implementing a flipped teaching model. At Villanova University in Pennsylvania, flipping second-year engineering courses led to a dramatic increase in the scores of students who were previously struggling. More recently, a study published in Journal of Education and Health Promotion reported higher posttest scores among the experimental group of medical students taught in a flipped classroom, compared to their control group.
- Interpersonal outcomes. In a review article for Frontiers in Psychology, Ruiguang Li presented several studies on the importance of collaboration and positive social interaction to productive classrooms and why the flipped teaching model fosters a more engaging learning environment., as well as stronger professional skills in individual students.
- Student satisfaction. Whether a student actually enjoys a course or not can make a big difference in their long-term retention of the material. While the effect from flipped classrooms is usually smaller here than in the other two categories, it’s still noticeable: undergraduate students at the College for Academic Learning in Israel who took a flipped course reported more interest in the subject, greater comprehension and higher confidence in their understanding than students who took a standard course.
These points might be anecdotes, but they line up with the data that we have. A 2021 meta-analysis of over 300 studies on flipped classrooms shows that this new approach to teaching outperforms traditional methods in these three dimensions.
The numbers don’t lie; flipped classrooms work. Of course, not everybody learns in the same way, and there’s a lot left up to chance, but converting classrooms into spaces for working and growing together makes a real difference for students and teachers alike.
Can a flipped classroom model be applied to test prep? Yes, it can! Check out SAT/ACT TestFlip to see how.