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Students at UNC vary in opinions of flipped classroom style

Professor Balaban uses the flipped classroom concept to teach to her Econ 101 students in Caroll Hall on March 19th. In classes that use this standard, students read their textbooks outside of class and work through problems during class time, allowing them to ask the teacher to explain concepts that are difficult to grasp.
Professor Balaban uses the flipped classroom concept to teach to her Econ 101 students in Caroll Hall on March 19th. In classes that use this standard, students read their textbooks outside of class and work through problems during class time, allowing them to ask the teacher to explain concepts that are difficult to grasp.

A flipped classroom is one in which students learn lecture material outside of class, usually by viewing videos, and class time is used for discussion and practice problems .

Sophomore Allie Clark said she has taken five classes that were flipped and is not a fan of the model.

“I kind of felt like it was a cop-out for the money that I’m paying to be taught here. I was just basically like taking an online class without an instructor,” she said.

Rita Balaban, an economics professor, flipped all of her 101 classes in the fall of 2013.

Sophomore Rachel Rondeau said she did not enjoy Balaban’s flipped class.

“The videos were just Balaban talking, and, I don’t know, I couldn’t really focus on them. I just ended up more confused,” she said.

Other students feel differently. Senior Courtney Shannon said she enjoyed the psychology class she took with Viji Sathy, a psychology professor.

“At the time it was more work, but at the end it was worth it. I was ready for the final. I did really well in the class. It definitely paid off,” she said.

Jon Bergmann, chief learning officer of Flipped Learning, LLC , said the model stops students from passively sitting in lecture halls.

“This forces them to learn. So that can be, sometimes, a challenge for those students, but I think in many ways is a good challenge for them,” he said.

Student Body President-elect Andrew Powell said he enjoyed the flipped class he took and is passionate about modeling more classes like it, something that was a cornerstone of his candidate platform.

“If you think about when students really learn material, for a lot of us it’s not when you’re sitting passively in a lecture struggling to write down the notes and keep up, it’s really when you are applying the concepts,” he said.

Powell said he is planning a 10-course redesign for the upcoming year. He will work with different programs and departments to send out requests for proposals in order to receive funding.

“There’s a cool chance for UNC, if we do it right, to be a national leader,” he said.

Balaban said even though she has only taught flipped classes for a few semesters, they are rewarding for her and her students.

“For me personally, because I get to work actively with the students during each lecture, it gives me a good idea about what they’re actually learning and what I may need to spend more time on, what I can go a little faster through,” she said.

Balaban also said stud ents are better prepared for exams.

“Your coach does not come to you on Aug. 28 and say, ‘Here’s the playbook. Be ready to play Duke on Feb. 4. I’ll see you at the game.’

“They give you the plays, they observe you, they correct you. They want to make sure that when you get to Duke, you’re ready. And that’s the same way,” she said.

Sathy said she flipped her statistical principles of psychological research class in spring 2013.

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“Teaching it in this way is exciting for me because I see students talking about statistics in my classroom,” she said.

“I see them analyzing data in my classroom. They’re engaged in the material in a way that I’ve never seen before.”

While the flipped classroom method might resemble the work done in recitations, Sathy still uses recitations as an opportunity to work on assignments. Powell said recitations might be optional with this model in the future.

Sathy said although creating the flipped classroom was time-consuming, it incorporates what she believes in: hard work, preparation and self-achievement.

“I believe in this. I think it’s something really great. I’d love to see people who want to do this, do it.”

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