In recent years, flipping the classroom has become a trend used notably in mathematics, physics, and biology classes. To ensure that students are prepared for a flipped course, a lecturer creates some short videos of lectures to be watched by the student before attending class. According to Brame (2013), flipped learning is a learning-based model where the traditional and typical homework and lecture elements are reversed. The term is used to describe a classroom structure where the students are provided with prerecorded lectures for homework in video form to be viewed at home before in-class exercises. Therefore, a key ingredient in a flipped classroom is the video lectures provided by the instructor or professor. While in class, the time is then devoted to discussions, exercises, and projects; these activities are interspersed to see and test what the students have learned from the video lectures. It is important to realize that the flipped approach in classrooms has become very successful in student engagement, active learning, and hybrid course design as it has lead in class discussions that have helped clarify points of confusion. Students during the class sessions integrate into hands-on activities where they collaborate, create, and put into practice what they have learned from the video lectures. In this light, it is correct to say that flipped learning has significant advantages for students as compared to the traditional standard lectures. One particular subject that lends itself well to the additional practice time and adjusted pace that flipped learning offers is mathematics. In fact, its use in elementary math classroom is crucial as its a subject that requires a lot of practice and sequential learning. From this insight, the aim of this article is to discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of a flipped math classroom taking into consideration its achievement in completing homework practice problems during class sessions.
Flipping Math Classrooms: Setting
A 2011 report by CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) indicated that almost 70% of U.S teachers believe that students are becoming more productive than they were three years ago as a result of technology reliance such as in flipped learning in classrooms (Fitzpatrick, 2012). Nowadays, students can view video lectures that are easily available online for free on their iPads, tablets, smartphones, or laptops. As a pedagogical model, the flipped approach has been especially significant in math concepts. Hertz, a teacher in Philadelphia (2012) explains that the hardest part about teaching math to students is ensuring they do not blindly solve equations without understanding what they are doing. However, flipped math classrooms have integrated a variety of approaches and hands-on activities that students can follow along easily. So how can a math classroom be flipped? The first phase is video engagement. It should be the first priority, and the video lectures should be broken down into small parts about 3 -5 minutes long. This will allow the math students to pause between the videos and reflect (Kirch, 2013). Then students come back the next day to discuss some of the problems or determine an understanding. Based on their performance on the practice problems, the students are then grouped for differentiation purposes and work on the homework assignments in class with the supervision of the instructor face-to-face as opposed to the traditional way of working on math assignments at home where they end up stuck and not completing the assignments.
Advantages of a Flipped Math Classroom
According to Shafique and Robinson (2015), flipped learning in math classrooms allows teachers to spend more time interacting with the student's since the lectures are already video recorded hence helping them directly with their math problems. Traditionally, students used to engage more out of class through the homework assigned. However, flipped learning allows a deeper engagement in class whereby the students interact with each other to solve mathematical equations (Eisenhut & Taylor, 2015, p.18). Furthermore, for a subject like mathematics, it requires more face-to-face interaction and flipping the math classes allows the teachers to minimize on direct instructions while maximizing interactions (Shafique & Robinson, 2015 p.30).
Jungic et al. (2014) highlight that some of the perceived benefits of using video lectures in math classes are students become able to learn at their own pace and eventually learn better. Working in groups or as a team as compared to doing homework assignments individually at home allows students to have a better understanding of the course (p.6-8). Herreid and Schiller (2013) also agree that flipped math classrooms allow teachers to have a better insight into a student's difficulty when doing homework at schools rather than at home. This can further allow the teachers to update or easily customize the curriculum to benefit the students. According to a survey done on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) instructors, 200 teachers reported that flipped lessons have additional benefits such as students can use the available resources in classrooms such as scientific equipment to do the homework assignments. The classroom time can be used more creatively and effectively, for instance, most students find calculus course to be difficult, but with flipped learning, they can discuss and interact with each other and one-on-one interactions with the teacher to help in their difficulties. In a nutshell, most of the available literature on flipped learning in math classrooms such as Eisenhut and Taylor (2015) found that students' evaluation of the math course indicated that flipped learning in classrooms had more positive impact on cooperative learning. This method of teaching is more operative than lecturing and students enjoyed classroom time through watching the lecture videos (63).
Disadvantages of a Flipped Math Classroom
Most of the studies on flipped math classrooms such as Ziegelmeier and Topaz (2015), found that most of the students in a flipped classroom did not complain of any pitfalls in the approach. The few who criticized the approach mentioned that they lacked instant feedback after watching the videos. However, in this case, the teachers can provide the feedback during the class sessions. Nonetheless, as Herreid and Schiller (2013) highlight, STEM teachers surveyed in the study also identified some major disadvantages of the approach. The lecture videos which are also the homework must be good quality videos. Most of the lecture videos submitted by teachers are often from the internet and include low quality. Additionally, Hernandez and Hinojosa (2014) also report that these technical problems hinder STEM students to watch lecture videos due to poor internet connection or special software needed to access the material.
Although lecture videos in flipped math classrooms are designed to be short, concise, and simple with an average of 3-10 minutes, some students as Ziegelmeier and Topaz (2015) indicate, responded that the videos took too long.
A basic component of teaching STEM students particularly mathematical pupils is problem-solving. As the above literature shows, in-class lectures are not solving the problem of mathematics, in fact, most teachers and students surveyed showed the significance of flipping STEM classrooms as to promote collaboration and student-centered learning both at school and at home. The traditional and current method of teachers giving students homework to be done at home only fosters lack of motivation and does not enhance learning. Therefore, the main conclusion in this article is that flipping mathematic classrooms allows flexibility for students to learn and solve problems in a conducive learning environment. Furthermore, working as a team enables students to learn at their own pace; a crucial element of the flipping approach.
Brame, C. (2013). Flipping the Classroom | Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University. Cft.vanderbilt.edu. Retrieved 30 November 2016, from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/flipping-the-classroom/
Eisenhut, L. & Taylor, C. (2015). In-Class Purposes of Flipped Mathematics Educators. Journal Of Mathematics Education At Teachers College, 6(2). Retrieved from http://journals.tc-library.org/index.php/matheducation/article/viewFile/1136/701
Fitzpatrick, M. (2012). Classroom Lectures Go Digital with Video-On-Demand. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 30 November 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/us/25iht-educside25.html
Hernandez, D. & Hinojosa, C. (2014). Advantages and Disadvantages OF Flipped Classroom: STEM Students' Perception. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276059389_Advantages_and_Disadvantages_of_Flipped_Classroom_STEM_Students'_Perceptions
Herreid, C. & Schiller, N. (2013). Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom. Journal Of College Science Teaching, 42(5). Retrieved from http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/pdfs/Cases_Flipped_Classroom.pdf
Hertz, M. (2012). The Flipped Classroom: Pro and Con. Edutopia. Retrieved 30 November 2016, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-classroom-pro-and-con-mary-beth-hertz
Jungic, V. & Kaur, H. (2014). On flipping the classroom in large first-year calculus courses. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science And Technology, 46(4), 508-520. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0020739x.2014.990529
Kirch, C. (2013). Flipped Learning: So You Want to Flip Your Math Class?. CUE Blog. Retrieved 30 November 2016, from http://blog.cue.org/flipped-learning-your-math-class/
Shafique, M. & Robinson, H. (2015). A Study on the Effectiveness of Flipped Teaching in College Math Classroom. International Journal of Education And Information Technology, 1(2), 29-33. Retrieved from http://files.aiscience.org/journal/article/pdf/70390008.pdf
Ziegelmeier, L. & Topaz, C. (2015). Flipped Calculus: A Study of Student Performance and Perceptions. PRIMUS, 25(9-10), 847-860. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10511970.2015.1031305
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