The “Flipped” Classroom Teaching Strategy

A key benefit of being a member of ASPB, at least for me, is that we have access to several activities to enhance career skills. One of my favorites is the Education Committee workshop. I’ve had the privilege to attend several by now. As a result, my teaching tools box has improved a lot and helped me to be successful in my job hunt. This year, along with several others, I was able to share my experience as a member of the iConnect team.

Workshop participants.
Workshop participants.

The workshop this year, sponsored by the Education Committee, was about a teaching strategy called “The Flipped Classroom,” by Adrienne Williams (University of California–Irvine). She is a project specialist and expert on biology education, particularly developmental and cell biology courses. She is doing outstanding work. On her Twitter account @BioTeaching, she describes her interests as “moving undergraduates from memorizing to thinking in gigantic lecture halls.” In addition, she has a lot of information online regarding what the flipped classroom strategy is, the different combination of activities she has applied, reports about the level of success, and her recommendations depending on the results obtained. You can read one of Adrienne’s recent reports on Introductory Biology and find  more of her tips on flipped classrooms on the UC Irvine website.

Adrienne is a very engaging instructor. During her presentation I was able to share experiences and obtain a lot of feedback from her and colleagues. These colleagues are from different institutions in the United States and other countries, with different class loads and experience. To make our learning experience more entertaining, we sat in groups and discussed our present strategies and why we wanted to flip our class. We concluded that our main concern was the size of the class and how to make it more dynamic and entertaining for our students. We also realized the extra time we would have to spend, but concluded that the benefits outweighed the costs.

One of the key points Adrienne mentioned is that students should be able to use any material and independently learn from them. One example is the use of interactive videos that encourage students to look for information before the class, therefore we could do other activities in class and ideally the material would be covered more thoroughly.

Basically we learned the basics of flipping, Adrienne’s tips for success (she gave us her contact info, so we can contact her directly for advice), the scale of flipping we want to apply, and how to evaluate student performance and success.

Finally, it was also great to see friends met in other workshops. We had a very good time exchanging experiences, advice, and encouragement, as we continue to work to improve our teaching skills.

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