12- Does it Improve Student Learning?

Cappuccino: The Flippin' Kitty
Cappuccino the flippin’ kitty watched every single one of my general biology lectures. But did he learn anything?

One of the best things about HAPS (in my opinion) is the priority it places on TEACHING and LEARNING.  I was a first-timer at the annual conference in May and I felt a powerful sense of community among a diverse group of humans gathered together to maximize our effectiveness in the classroom.  I am passionate about ensuring I am doing my best work to help my students learn, and it was nothing less than inspiring to spend a week with so many others who felt the same way.

And this is why I am flipping my classes.  I feel very strongly that my methods improve student learning.  However, I find it extremely frustrating that I really can’t PROVE it.  I want to be able to point to numbers that convince folks to make this change…but there is an irritating weakness in any data I collect in my own classroom.  I cannot say for sure that any improvements I see are the result of my pedagogy, because the fact is I am improving as a teacher every single day that I am breathing.  There is just no doubt that I am a better teacher today than I was 2 years ago (and even 2 weeks ago) and this alone could very legitimately explain the improvements in retention and pass rates that I have seen in my courses over time.  And comparing my data with my colleagues?  The number of confounding variables in such a comparison would be pretty much confounding.  So how can I justify encouraging folks that the flip is the way to go?

To be honest, this week I’ve been really struck by the reasons we should NOT flip…because it is a lot of work.  So why am I flipping my classes?  First, my students LIKE IT.  This is huge for me.  Learning is hard, rewarding, valuable and important WORK, and we’re more likely to DO IT if we enjoy it.  And second, I’m a committed flipper because I believe it is better.  I wish I had a more convincing way that I could “prove” this.

I am excited that Elaine is on board to also blog about flipping.  It will be fun (for all of us) to hear a different perspective on the approach, although as she already said in her first post, we’ve both “drunk the kool-aid”.

2 thoughts on “12- Does it Improve Student Learning?

  1. Love the question “did they learn anything” or “are they learning more than last year?” One of my mentors is an expert in ed evaluation, and she told me once … if an assessment and evaluation is not expensive (think development of a standardized test) or time consuming (qualitative / mixed methods) it’s probably worthless.

    What experienced educators do have is “gut instinct” .. that, of course, can not be documented / measured easily, but experienced and talented educators KNOW when things are going well in the classroom .. but that’s about it… Far from “scientific evidence.”

    Sorry .. no magic shortcuts for valid and reliable measures of student learning – so when we’re asked “are students learning more in a flipped classroom?” … the scientific answer in most all cases is “we don’t know” in terms of “content objectives, but there is some good evidence that process skills / developmental outcomes / 21st Century skills are boosted.


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