Background

Dr. Matt Stoltzfus (a.k.a. Dr. Fus) has been teaching with a flipped class model for over six years, in his courses at Ohio State. When he began teaching chemistry he found that students coming out of high school lacked critical thinking skills. They were passive learners who expected to be fed information. He wanted a method that promoted mastery of the material, not shallow cramming for tests.

That was why he decided to flip his classroom. Now, his students watch the lecture outside class hours. That frees Dr. Fus to focus class time on real-life problem solving and demonstrations of the underlying concepts of chemistry.

Preparation plus active problem-solving.

Students in Dr. Fus’s class are expected to arrive prepared. They are instructed to watch the lecture at home, and then try a few teaching problems, designed to gently guide students to the correct answer rather than present it outright. When class time starts, Dr. Fus opens with a poll. It’s a multiple choice question, similar to the teaching problems from the pre-class homework.

Students get to work in small groups or alone to solve the problem and answer the poll. If they’ve done the groundwork and understood the content, they respond correctly and get a lecture point. If they’re having trouble, they get to try again at home, after class.

Students can clearly see when they miss the mark.

Dr. Fus reports that because students can clearly see where they go wrong, they are much more eager to latch onto the correct approach. He explains, “I find that students respond much better when I can give evidence they are struggling with a particular concept. In addition, with over 325 students in each class, I am not able to give each student individual attention.”

Because of in-class polling and a flipped classroom, Dr. Fus can lead each class session toward improved problem-solving skills and mastery of the material, instead of simply doling out a lecture for students to copy on auto-pilot.

How can you do this?

Step 1

Post the content of your lectures online as a video or a PDF. Instruct students to watch the video and then practice solving the introductory problems.

Step 2

When class begins, present another introductory problem as a multiple choice poll. Allow students to work out their answers in small groups, if necessary. Watch results roll in.

Step 3

Reveal the correct response. If you see the need, help students understand where they went wrong, and how to attack the problem in a more productive way.

Make your own multiple-choice poll!

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