Flipping A & P: Taking a Hit

Nailed!
Nailed!

I’m so glad that my Associate Dean warned me about the hit I would take on my student evaluations when I decided to flip my courses. Without that warning, I would have been devastated by the response after my first flipped semester. It still stung a bit.

Now, I have never been voted “favorite teacher” by students. I teach a difficult subject, I don’t bend the rules laid down in the syllabus and those rules are pretty strict about due dates and make up work. I have also expected my students to be able to think critically and not just memorize the material. In other words, I’m “hard”. Even so, my evaluations were always pretty good. Then, I flipped.

Some students enjoyed the new format. Here are some direct quotes from their anonymous course evaluation comments.

“I greatly enjoy Prof Kohrman’s class. She keeps class interesting and I enjoy everything she is doing.”

“I’ve enjoyed this class because it requires me to think critically and put forth a lot of effort. I have learned a lot!”

Others weren’t as enthusiastic, to put it mildly. These are excerpts; their full comments were usually MUCH longer. Some accompanied by suggestions that I should be fired.

“Ms. Kohrman is a good teacher, however I do not like her teaching style. She does not lecture at all. It is the weirdest format I have ever seen in a college class, however I am doing well in it.”

“I think that it would help the students if the instructor would lecture in the class, instead of always just doing clicker questions, group work, and handouts.”

“I believe Kohrman has the potential to be an effective teacher but her methods of teaching are non-learnable. I am in class to be taught not to be questioned on material I studied before I came to class but was never taught.”

“By far the very worst instructor I have ever had! I am well aware that anatomy is not an easy subject to begin with but when you have an instructor that doesnt teach, it makes it even harder.”

I’m always amused by comments that the student had to “learn everything themselves”, as if information is just downloaded to their brains during lectures. But I do take student evaluations seriously and I have made some changes based on comments I have received. I do a lot of mini-lectures now during clicker questions, especially when the students don’t seem to understand a specific topic. I also make charts and drawings on the white boards to help organize material. I think the balance is better between lecturing and flipping now.

I am very lucky to be at a community college that is really interested in student learning and not just enrollment numbers or completion rates. I haven’t been fired. In fact, I received a merit bonus award and was the recipient of the Somerset Community College Faculty Award of Excellence for 2013.*

*Your results may vary.

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