Workshop offers alternate model for student engagement in and out of the classroom

Friday, June 3, 2016

Caleb Snider, Congress 2016 student blogger

On June 2 at Congress 2016, Lisa Stowe (University of Calgary) lead a special session of Career Corner hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the University of Calgary entitled Flip your classroom to increase student engagement. Stowe laid out an alternative to traditional lecturing by creating a community of learners in the classroom and by breaking down the traditional boundaries between instructors and students.

This community of learners is formed by literally flipping the environments in which new content is disseminated to students and in which students demonstrate knowledge of and make use of said content. In the flip method, new material is assigned as “homework” (in the form of online resources such as podcasts, YouTube clips and PowerPoint presentations), while creative engagement with that material is performed in the classroom.

Class time in the flip model is used to immediately evaluate how well the students have done absorbing the new course content: self-assessment tests and quick, low-risk quizzes provide students and instructors with immediate feedback and immediately show where gaps in knowledge and understanding need to be filled. The rest of class time features active learning activities. In teams of three or five, students have the opportunity to engage with core concepts and course material on a profound level by putting that material into practice.

Stowe put special emphasis on transparency and clarity of course objectives: students in the flipped classroom need to know why you are doing this to avoid anxiety and resistance. Course objectives should be clearly stated in the first class, and reexamined in the last class to ensure that they have been met.

Stowe noted that the flip method can be daunting for instructors and students alike, in that it represents a great deal of preparatory work on the part of instructors. She recommended slowly introducing elements of the flip method into your courses in order to spread the workload out over many sessions, but highlighted that the potential for dramatically increasing teaching efficacy is well worth the extra effort.


Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2016