Teaching: A Failed Flip

A report on a well-intentioned effort….
When I last posted back in February I was preoccupied with attempting to “flip” my American Government course at UNH. I abandoned the blogging once I felt comfortable with how to design a flipped course, and this blog has been silent since.

Well, now I am back, and have to admit that while I found the experience interesting (actually invigorating), it turned out to be a failure for many (if not most) of my students.

Let me start by noting that I am not a great teacher — in fact, not even “good” compared to some of my colleagues who receive high or near perfect evaluations each term. But the evaluations for the flipped course are in — and they are quantitatively a disaster, and (according to some “comments” from students) I ought to have my tenure taken away. Pretty harsh (although there were a few — too few — positives and even some converts to the poli sci major). Moreover, almost all the really negative comments were aimed at my flipped course approach.

What makes this so disappointing is that I actually devoted more time and energy to this course than any other I’ve taught in years. Doing a flipped course (with an enrollment of 54 in this case) required a significant amount of time and preparation. In addition, I attempted to be as open, available and accommodating as I could be, going out of my way to respond as quickly as possible to questions and issues and keeping on top of student progress in the online assignments (as it turns out, much to the annoyance of several who complained I overwhelmed them with attention and reminders via emails and announcements).

So now it is time for me to stand back and try to figure out what went wrong. So for the next few posts I will try to do just that.

In the meantime I am making a hasty retreat from my plans to use the flipped course in my Media and Politics course this semester….

More to come.
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