One of the most common questions I field about flipping my classes relates to handling the non-flippers. I had a conversation with a colleague the other day about strategies for dealing with students who don’t flip course content before attending class. She is a speech teacher and as we talked, I realized how LUCKY I am to teach Anatomy and Physiology. My students often demonstrate an intense level of intrinsic motivation to understand the material, because most of the course content relates directly to the careers they are choosing to pursue. So when she asked what I do when my students don’t flip, I hesitated. Because the fact is, I do nothing. If my students fail to come to class prepared, they will be fundamentally confused by the activities we are doing in class. Most of my students don’t like this. Additionally, the questions asked by the non-flippers (if they dare ask any) often reveal that they didn’t adequately prepare for class. I try to be kind when I tell them that I covered their question in detail during the video lecture and gently remind them that in a flipped class, they should probably watch the lecture BEFORE coming to class. I’ve had some students confide in me that they DIDN’T watch the online lecture…ONCE. And they were so lost and confused that they never repeated that mistake. But this is in a class full of really motivated students. So how can instructors ensure students come to class prepared?
I’ve been playing with the idea of making my clicker questions count for real points. Right now, I give students 100% of their clicker points just for showing up to class and participating. (Clicker points count for 5% of their total course grade.) Honestly, the idea of holding students accountable for correct answers on these clicker questions makes me really tired, because in addition to being very motivated to understand the material, my students are also very motivated to collect every single possible point, even if it means fighting to the death with their exhausted instructor (that would be me). I find that my clicker questions (mostly multiple choice) often initiate extremely interesting debates and I gain insights into the thinking that guides their decision making. I also get to vet my questions–and my students are excellent critics. I’m not sure I could handle the bookkeeping drama that would accompany a change in my clicker policy.
Other instructors require quizzes or other pre-class assessments to “prove” students flipped the content. I also think this would be an amazing thing to do…but only if I had the time to build really meaningful, interactive, and challenging assessments that easily fed into my LMS and required no grading. Ahem.
I think one of the best things to do is to simply facilitate activities during class time that are so engaging and interesting that students really WANT to come to class prepared. I’d say I get a C- in this area right now…which I suppose just means I have lots of room to improve!