Flip it and reverse it

Posted on 11 February 2015 by admin

 Meramec instructors adopt new ‘flipping’ teaching method 


Opinions Editor


At 9 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, STLCC-Meramec math professor Karen Gaines walks through her classroom with a sticker pad in her hand. She goes over to each of her students and looks at their notes they took at home. If they are complete, they get a smiley-face sticker.

For the next 50 minutes of class, they do their homework. Gaines teaches her class using the “flip” method — and according to her, it works.

The flip method is one that Gaines said has grown in popularity nationwide. The idea is teachers post their lectures, PowerPoints and lessons online. The students take notes from that and when they come to class, they do their homework. This allows the teacher to help the students in person.

“The big picture with flipped learning is trying to decide what the best use of the in-class time is with the students,” Gaines said.

With math, Gaines said lecturing for an entire class period is not effective time use. She makes her own online videos for outside direction, making it easier for the students to work in class. Homework is now called “in-class activities.”

However, this method is not for everyone.

Freshman Bryan Hutson has not been in school for 10 years and at 29, he said the flip method is difficult.

“I’m not used to using the computer to learn. It’s a separation; it’s harder for me,” Hutson said.

Gaines said she knows this method is not for everyone, but she has seen great things from the students who like it. Describing it as “a well-oiled machine,” she said her attendance is much better. She said it is partly because they know if they need help, they have to come class.

Accounting Professor Markus Ahrens teaches his class using a partially-flipped model and he said he has reaped the same benefits.

With Ahrens’ model, he puts a portion of his lectures online and teaches the rest in class. This way, the class lectures are shorter. The students are required to take an online pre-quiz before each chapter and then they go over it in class.

Like Gaines, Ahrens has the class arrange themselves in small groups. Ahrens then brings the groups together and they have a class discussion. He said his attendance has risen and he has seen students improve by an entire letter grade.

When students are having a problem with the class, Ahrens said he will take time to talk to them personally. He said he tries to get everyone on the same base level.

Ahrens and Gaines both presented their teaching methods to other faculty during Service Week.

Gaines said she has had nothing but support and hopes to eventually teach all of her classes by “flipping.” The students that like the method find it helpful and fun, said freshman Celie Reis.

“It’s weird listening to the notes on the computer and doing homework in class, but I think it’s working out for me so far,” Reis said.

Ahrens has already transcended into teaching all of his classes partially flipped. With his method of combining traditional teaching with flipping, it allows the students to be more engaged. He said with a community college and no one living on campus, they are bonding with their own groups. “It creates connection to the campus community,” Ahrens said.


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