Flipping Your and Your Students’ Perspectives about Learning

Faculty learned that effectively flipping a class involves flipping their own perspectives about teaching to a learning-centered one. That is, it entails switching attention from their expert view of course content, with a focus on its detail and presentation, to the perspectives of their students with a focus on their expectations and engagement with the content. These strategies can inform how you can combine these perspectives as you approach your flipped class: 

Consider explaining to your students why and how you have planned your flipped classes. While many students enthusiastically embrace online learning and interactive classes, others may be skeptical. Students may view this learning method as a potentially disruptive to how they have succeeded in the past. Use straightforward and familiar language in your instructions about flipped lessons. For example, “Please view the video on our website tonight and try the three problems you will find there to prepare for our next class.” 

If possible, give students options about working within a flipped format or a conventional method. Some large classes have offered special flipped sections alongside standard lecture sections. After explaining the benefits of each, students chose one or the other with an option of switching after a week or two, but only once.  

Cultivate your students’ interest and enthusiasm for actively constructing their knowledge. They may come to your class expecting you the expert to deliver content to them while they learn by recording and imitating your knowledge. Put differently, students must flip that perspective to one that is centered on their own engagement and learning.

Design your course in terms of specific goals for learning and explain how you and your students will know if they are making progress or have achieved their goals. What kinds of work will students do to demonstrate success and what are the criteria for gauging their progress? Throughout the semester, take the time to encourage your students by reminding them of their goals and pointing out specific examples of the achievements they make along the way. 

To create a full understanding of your students' perspectives, consider their preconceptions about the course material. Plan an early activity to learn their initial understandings of your material. Explicitly describe the intellectual work involved and design activities for students to assimilate new concepts about subjects they may already think they understand. 

McGraw Center staff are available to consult individually with faculty on designing effective activities for their flipped classes as well as for creating interactive online course environments. Contact us at mcgraw@princeton.edu.

For additional pedagogical resources, visit the Graduate Students and Faculty webpages.