The Study Advice team found David Nutt’s post (Preparing to turn the classroom upside down, 14th Sept 2012) very timely as we too are embarking on a project to ‘flip’ the classroom.

Flipped learning has been a significant driver in the increase in open online courses for higher education. It has been used in higher education in the US with great success, particularly in science and maths subjects and has become widely used in teaching in US secondary schools. Discussing the approach with learning development colleagues at other universities alerted us to the potential benefits for teaching study skills.

Students are often reluctant to commit time from a busy schedule to developing their study skills, despite the prospect of greater success in learning. The flipped learning model allows students to explore key concepts or theories via videos, podcasts or screencasts, whilst freeing up contact hours for interactive application of these key concepts. This means that:

  • students practise independent learning from the start;
  • they can learn at their own pace and at a time to suit them;
  • problems with understanding can be spotted and addressed quickly.

The Study Advice project, funded by a grant from the Annual Fund, will apply the model to generic study skills teaching on topics including essay writing and referencing practice. We will be developing suites of ‘bite-size’ animated teaching resources using Camtasia to produce screencasts, accessed via our Blackboard Organisation. These will be followed by ‘Workshop Plus’ sessions to practise the skills taught in the screencasts. The screencasts will also be made available to University of Reading students and staff to use for their own purposes.

Challenges include persuading students to watch the screencasts before attending the hands-on sessions. Previous examples of flipped learning are course-based, with a specific cohort of students in one subject area. This means students are more motivated to access resources, while tutors can target the ‘just in time teaching’ mentioned by David to the needs of the group. In contrast, our teaching will be generic, on key study concepts which have a significant, but less visible impact on grades.

We would be very interested to hear the experiences of any other staff taking this approach in their teaching, and will be happy to share our own experiences. If you would like to know more about this project, contact any member of the Study Advice team (Sonia Hood, Kim Shahabudin, Michelle Reid and Judy Turner).


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