Teaching: Assessing Flipped Course Failure: Part 2

More on failed flipping experience.
Kim’s 6th and final myth about the flipped classroom is the one that hits close to home — and I quote it at length:

Myth #6 - Students Will Not Like the Flipped Class, and Your Teaching Evaluations Will Suffer:

“Unfortunately, this is not a myth.  Many students will dislike a flipped class methodology.  They are accustomed to the lecture format.  They have thrived in the lecture format.  If you flip your class you are asking them to work harder.  To spend more time before class preparing, and then to work hard during class completing the active learning exercises that you have designed.“We should be prepared for student push back….”

Our job, he states, “is not to make students happy.” (I seem to be doing well on that point).

“If moving to a flipped classroom model is conducive to better learning then it is our responsibility to go in this direction.  We need to protect our innovative faculty from worrying too much about student evaluations.”

Agreed — but I am not quite sure blaming the students helps that much. His other piece of advice is to talk to students to let them know the rationale behind the flipped course and to have an open discussion about its positive and negatives. Good advice, but it is difficult to engage in such a chat before the class starts, and it is unlikely they would understand or appreciate what is about to take place.

In lieu of that, I have now reached out to those class members to see if any of them would be willing to talk more about the course, to provide more elaborate feedback than those given in the evaluations, and perhaps to offer suggestions. We will see how that goes.

My sense is that the lower division American government course was probably not the right choice for this experiment. Substantively, the subject does not lend itself to the kind of in class activities that make the flipped course work in skill-based courses where “homework” can be moved into the classroom setting (e.g., maths and the sciences, or even writing courses). The fact that this was a course filled with folks just trying to fill some general ed (“discovery course”) requirement — or just trying to fill an open hour in their schedule — meant that there was a lower level of interest in and commitment to the subject. All many of them really wanted was to find out what would be on the exam and what it would take to pass. Moreover, the amount of work I demanded and the schedule I insisted on for a weekly writing assignments (i.e., the online group discussion forum) probably seemed overwhelming by mid-term.

But when all is said and done, I might not have been the best person to engage in this course flipping exercise.

I can only hope that, despite their negative feelings about the course, most may have come away with a greater appreciation and understanding of American government.
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