The last few years has seen a tremendous amount of innovation in digital ways of learning.
MOOCs have grown to tremendous levels, whilst platforms such as Khan Academy have given fresh impetus to the teaching of mathematics.
These platforms have also raised the profile of ‘flipping the classroom’, which is a concept whereby students consume lecture material in their own time, and then use class time to discuss and work on that material as a class. It’s the alternative to the traditional approach where the material is delivered in class, and then worked on at home on one’s own.
A study a few years ago from researchers at Stanford University found that students on a neuroscience course performed considerably better when their class experience was ‘flipped’.
“Our results suggest that students are better prepared to understand a theory after first exploring by themselves, and that tangible user interfaces are particularly well-suited for that purpose,” said Bertrand Schneider, a graduate student who led the research under the direction of Paulo Blikstein, an assistant professor of education.
A second study, this time from researchers at Yale and UMass came to a similar conclusion. It found that in science classes, girls benefitted tremendously from the flipped approach.
The authors collected five years of performance data on students in an upper-level physical chemistry course. For the first three of those years, the course was conducted in a traditional manner, with lectures given during class time.
The class was then flipped so that most of the material was given to students before the lecture, with class time then devoted to interactive projects.
“The structure of the flipped environment may provide students impetus for less crammed, more uniform interaction with the course material throughout the semester,” the authors concluded.
With many organisations, not least us here at the NCUB, attempting to get more girls into STEM subjects, maybe this is an approach that would bear fruit.