flipped content, shared knowledge, photo of two students high-fiving at a table surrounded by other students, second photo of a person working at a laptop on a desk

About Flipped Classroom Design

What Is Flipped Learning?

Flipped learning takes advantage of a combination of online and face-to-face learning experiences to put evidence-based teaching into practice and make the most of the time spent together with students. In a flipped classroom, the primary delivery of content and instruction is completed online, prior to a scheduled class session, and practice applying that content is completed during the class session. The more traditional classroom practices--lecturing and quizzing--take place online, leaving more time for active, engaged interactions and collaborative modes of learning while in class.

the flipped classroom. out of class prepare, in class engage, out of class extend

Why Design a Flipped Classroom?

Besides being a creative scheduling solution, flipped classroom design allows for multiple methods of learning, increases metacognition, and embeds within the course routine many evidence-based teaching strategies, such as retrieval practice, spacing, interleaving, and use of feedback (Agarwal & Bain, 2019). 

At the same time, the pressure to deliver content in a limited time is lifted from the classroom itself. During class, students and the instructor can take more time for hands-on practice, collaborative problem-solving, active learning, research, or projects that require students to use higher-order thinking skills. Creating opportunities for students to interact with each other and the content exposes students to diverse perspectives on course content and its applications and provides students with valuable feedback from both their peers and the teacher on their level of understanding and mastery. Such informal feedback helps students to better develop their ideas, make stronger connections to the material, and ultimately gain a deeper understanding. Active learning also increases student accountability, as they must come prepared to contribute to the learning process and defend and/or explain their responses to their peers (Eddy et al., 2015). 

Course Design Considerations

While all course design should start with the student learning outcomes, designing for the flipped classroom requires that instruction is divided into three phases: Prepare before the scheduled class session, Practice during the scheduled class session, and Extend learning after the scheduled class session. To learn more about USC Upstate's FLIPR model of flipped learning design, read the Office for Transformative and Inclusive Pedagogy Flipped Learning White Paper.PDF format link

Phase 1: Prepare before the scheduled class session

Identify the content students most struggle with and the skills or knowledge students will need to apply to achieve course learning outcomes. Create or collect instructional materials to introduce this content online, allowing students to access it asynchronously. Create video minilectures, textbook study guides, background materials and a range of other resources, then give students the flexibility to choose when and where they interact with the content, and how they break up their sessions for learning, including revisiting or repeating the material as needed (Munyofu et al., 2007).

In order for Phase One materials to be effective, they cannot be passive. Design interactive formative assessments, such as quizzes, discussion forums, minute papers, polls, or other tools, either embedded within or required after a video, to engage students and to hold them accountable for their own learning. These short assessments can also give students automated feedback to help them assess their initial understanding.   

Phase 2: Practice during the scheduled class session

In the second phase, the students return to the classroom. An online synchronous meeting via Blackboard Collaborate can replace a face-to-face (f2f) meeting in the event an in-person session is not possible.

Identify active learning activities that require students to apply the content they reviewed before class, analyze, evaluate, create, synthesize, and make connections to other content areas and the real world. Together you can accomplish more challenging intellectual tasks that require your guidance or the collaborative support from peers to develop mastery of concepts and skills. You could use the active, class time to design a sustained group project that incorporates new information from the online lectures during each meeting, or use group quizzes, polls, Web quests, "muddiest point" discussions, peer teaching, presentations, problem-based learning, or other targeted hands-on work.

In this phase, you can also use information from the Phase One work for feedback-informed instruction, also referred to as Just in Time Teaching (JiTT). For especially important or challenging content, plan to use Phase Two to deliver a mini-lecture or review of the most difficult Phase One material based on their formative assessment results. 

Phase 3: Extend learning after the scheduled class session

In the last phase, students should review, reflect, and act upon the feedback and experiences from Phases One and Two. By reviewing and reflecting, students boost their metacognition and also increase their knowledge of the content by highlighting gaps in their understanding (Agarwal & Bain, 2019).

Identify your learning goals for this content, and design reflections and reviews to highlight those core outcomes. If students need to understand new terms, perhaps Phase Three is just a post-test. If they need to evaluate or compare concepts, Phase Three may ask them to respond in a discussion to different solutions, arguments, or alternatives presented during Phase Two. Other options include a self-evaluation of their work or their work process in the discipline, a revision of work based on feedback received during class, or a summary or review of criticism or examples from the discipline illustrating the concepts introduced in Phase One. 

The work in Phase Three may also include summative assessments, more significant, high-stakes work used at the culmination of a learning period to demonstrate mastery of course skills or knowledge.

Tools for Teaching in a Flipped Classroom

The most important tools for teaching in a flipped classroom include engaging, multimedia, interactive ways to deliver content, as well as collaborative and interactive ways for students to work together actively during class sessions. 

Creating and Posting Videos

  • Agarwal, P. K., & Bain, P. M. (2019). Powerful teaching: Unleash the science of learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Biesta, G. (2007). Why “what works” won’t work: Evidence‐based practice and the democratic deficit in educational research. Educational theory57(1), 1-22. 
  • Eddy, S. L., Converse, M., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2015). PORTAAL: A classroom observation tool assessing evidence-based teaching practices for active learning in large science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classes. CBE—Life Sciences Education14(2), ar23.
  • Garrison, D. R., & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. The internet and higher education7(2), 95-105.
  • Munyofu, M., Swain, W. J., Ausman, B. D., Lin, H., Kidwai, K., & Dwyer, F. (2007). The effect of different chunking strategies in complementing animated instruction. Learning, Media and Technology32(4), 407-419.
  • Ryan, M. D., & Reid, S. A. (2016). Impact of the flipped classroom on student performance and retention: A parallel controlled study in general chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education93(1), 13-23.
  • University of Texas at Austin. (2019, October 24). Flipped Classroom.  
  • Seery, M. K. (2015). Flipped learning in higher education chemistry: emerging trends and potential directions. Chemistry Education Research and Practice16(4), 758-768.