Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hard Evidence for Flipping

I'm finding little on the Internet about flipping the composition classroom, and very little of that provides any hard evidence. In his 2012 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled How 'Flipping' the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture, Dan Berrett suggests that Humanities professors in general and literature professors specifically have a long tradition of flipping their classrooms. Berrett says:
Professors have flipped courses for decades. Humanities professors expect their students to read a novel on their own and do not dedicate class time to going over the plot. Class time is devoted to exploring symbolism or drawing out themes.
In her article So You Want to Start a Peer Online Writing Center? (2013), Christine Rosalia of Hunter College, the City University of New York,  associates a flipped reading and writing classroom with peer review techniques.
For classroom language teachers, the facilitation of peer review can be a rich and regenerating resource. With proper student training and structure, adding peer review to a class increases the amount and promptness of individualized instruction to writers. For example, in an efficient thirty minutes with a class of 30 writers a teacher can circulate the classroom making sure 30 writers get and give feedback on the ideas of their essay. In large classrooms, as Laurillard (2008) notes, each student would normally get as little as 5 minutes of individualized teacher attention per week. However, in a “flipped”[2] reading and writing classroom, in which a teacher sets up “reciprocal teaching” activities that include peer review, he or she is circulating around the room refining (and learning from) peer dialogues. The teacher is using peer feedback to notice information about the student reviewer and writer simultaneously (Paulus, 1999). How does the student use metacognitive strategies? How is the student summarizing theirs and others’ texts? How are they questioning, clarifying, and predicting as they read and write? Do they find one role–being a reviewer or the reviewee–easier? Is the dialogue real, encouraging, helpful, and productive?
In a footnote to her article, Rosalia defines the flipped classroom this way:
The “flipped classroom” is a term used by educational technologists to refer to an approach whereby the traditional PPP approach (teacher Presents, students Practice, students Produce as the teacher assesses) is reversed: the teacher gets students to produce (take a quiz or problem solve first), to help each other (practice), and then, students to present to each other. The initial lesson (teacher presentation) is replaced by asking students to do homework such as watching a youtube video lecture the night before classroom time.
Some suggest that the flipped classroom is not particularly effective. A 2007 Ohio State University dissertation by Jeremy Strayer compared a flipped class with a traditional class in a statistics course and found that students did not enjoy the flipped classroom as much as the traditional.

Howver, Cynthia J. Brame of Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching lists a number of studies that support the flipped classroom in general. In her instructions to the faculty entitled Flipping the Classroom, she says:
Mazur and colleagues have published results suggesting that the PI method results in significant learning gains when compared to traditional instruction (2001). In 1998, Richard Hake gathered data on 2084 students in 14 introductory physics courses taught by traditional methods (defined by the instructor as relying primarily on passive student lectures and algorithmic problem exams), allowing him to define an average gain for students in such courses using pre/post-test data. Hake then compared these results to those seen with interactive engagement methods, defined as “heads-on (always) and hands-on (usually) activities which yield immediate feedback through discussion with peers and/or instructors” (Hake p. 65) for 4458 students in 48 courses. He found that students taught with interactive engagement methods exhibited learning gains almost two standard deviations higher than those observed in the traditional courses (0.48 +/- 0.14 vs. 0.23 +/- 0.04). Assessment of classes taught by the PI method provides evidence of even greater learning gains, with students in PI courses exhibiting learning gains ranging from 0.49 to 0.74 over eight years of assessment at Harvard University (Crouch and Mazur, 2001). Interestingly, two introductory physics classes taught by traditional methods during the assessment period at Harvard show much lower learning gains (0.25 in a calculus-based course in 1990 and 0.40 in an algebra-based course in 1999). 
Carl Wieman and colleagues have also published evidence that flipping the classroom can produce significant learning gains (Deslauriers et al., 2011). Wieman and colleagues compared two sections of a large-enrollment physics class. The classes were both taught via interactive lecture methods for the majority of the semester and showed no significant differences prior to the experiment. During the twelfth week of the semester, one section was “flipped,” with first exposure to new material occurring prior to class via reading assignments and quizzes, and class time devoted to small group discussion of clicker questions and questions that required written responses. Although class discussion was supported by targeted instructor feedback, no formal lecture was included in the experimental group. The control section was encouraged to read the same assignments prior to class and answered most of the same clicker questions for summative assessment but were not intentionally engaged in active learning exercises during class. During the experiment, student engagement increased in the experimental section (from 45 +/- 5% to 85 +/- 5% as assessed by four trained observers) but did not change in the control section. At the end of the experimental week, students completed a multiple choice test, resulting in an average score of 41 +/- 1% in the control classroom and 74 +/- 1% in the “flipped” classroom, with an effect size of 2.5 standard deviations. Although the authors did not address retention of the gains over time, this dramatic increase in student learning supports the use of the flipped classroom model.
So I will keep looking.