What is flipped classroom?


Key elements

Concepts to know



Recently, flipped classroom has become a buzz word in the education field.

What is a flipped classroom? The name of flipped sounds interesting but actually this is not a new concept.  Instead of the traditional model of learning where students take notes and listen to lectures during class, in a flipped classroom, students review learning materials and obtain required basic knowledge before class.  Then, student spend class time applying the new knowledge to activities such as solving problems, analyzing cases, or collaboratively developing a product.  In the flipped classroom method, the instructor spends their time addressing students’ needs and helping the students to apply their knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and problem solving skills during class.

Students are now more responsible for their learning and active engagement while faculty have changed their role from delivering lectures to a mentor or facilitator.

University of Texas Learning Science has provided a great explanation on what is a flipped classroom:

In the flipped classroom, students are involved in two key phases:

Before class activities:

Student reviews assigned readings or video

Student completes an assignment that ensures review of material (online quiz, responds to discussion questions etc.) The key point is that students need to obtain basic required knowledge before they enter class.  The faculty should ensure students’ readiness before they enter class.

In-class activities:

In the flipped classroom, faculty design and structure the in-class activity based on active learning strategies such as case studies, problem-based learning, debates or role playing, etc.  Students are required to participate in these activities to apply new knowledge to evaluate or solve problems in collaboration with group members. During class, students participate in activities that help to understand the learning objectives for the unit.  To ensure students are understanding the learning objectives, frequent assessments are employed.  Faculty can then make adjustments as needed based on student performance.

Below is a summary of a list of questions from the University of Texas-Austin Learning Sciences Department to help you determine if the Flipped Classroom model is right for you:

  • What classes do you currently have an in-class activity that you rarely have time to complete during class and requires the students to apply their knowledge and skills?
  • What concepts or topics do students struggle the most to understand based on exam scores and/or assignment grades?
  • What topics would students benefit from the opportunity to apply the concepts within the classroom where your expertise could guide their development?

Key Elements

Below are additional key elements as described in Flipping the classroom by  Brame (2013) :

  • Provide an opportunity for students to gain first exposure prior to class
    • Textbook readings, lecture videos, podcasts, screencasts
  • Provide an incentive for students to prepare for class
    • Incentive is typically points
    • Grading for completion is also useful
  • Provide a mechanism to assess student understanding
    • Pre-class assignments
    • Online quizzes, worksheets
    • Helps clarify students thinking for richer in-class discussion
  • Provide in-class activities that focus on higher level cognitive activities
    • Debates, data analysis or synthetic activities to deepen understanding and increase skills

Concepts to know

Here are some concepts of flipped classroom that are good to know from Educause, MedEd World and The Chronicle of Higher Education:

  • Short video lectures are reviewed by students at home before class while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects or discussions
  • Video lectures are a key ingredient
  • More responsibility for learning is put on the students while giving them a greater impetus to experiment
  • Typically involves students preparing for class by watching pre-recorded lectures or undertaking assigned reading and activities then using class-time for interactive discussion, problem solving and other activities
  • Includes interactive engagement, real time teaching (students respond to web based questions before class) and peer instruction. Students cannot passively receive information in class, learn through applied thinking
  • Students review information outside of class and instead of receiving information from the instructor, students come prepared to discuss concepts in class

Although the flipped classroom model uses videos to help students become exposed to new materials and comprehend the concepts, faculty misinterpret the planning process and assume posting an hours-long video online alone is all that is needed and replaces teaching altogether. To clarify the myth of flipped classroom, Bergmann, Overmyer, & Willie clarified that   (2011) the flipped classroom is:

  • A means to INCREASE interaction and personalized contact time between students and teachers.
  • An environment where students take responsibility for their own learning.
  • A classroom where the teacher is not the “sage on the stage”, but the “guide on the side”.
  • A blending of direct instruction with constructivist learning.
  • A classroom where students who are absent due to illness or extra-curricular activities such as athletics or field-trips, don’t get left behind.
  • A class where content is permanently archived for review or remediation.
  • A class where all students are engaged in their learning.
  • A place where all students can get a personalized education.

The flipped classroom is NOT…

  • A synonym for online videos. When most people hear about the flipped class all they think about are the videos. It is the interaction and the meaningful learning activities that occur during the face-to-face time that is most important.
  • About replacing teachers with videos.
  • An online course.
  • Students working without structure.
  • Students spending the entire class staring at a computer screen.
  • Students working in isolation.


Below is a table that provides a summary of articles from The Internet and Higher Education (Kim et al.) with benefits for flipped classroom for both students and instructors.

Students Instructors
·       Helps improve retention of material

·       Increase in metacognition

·       Improvements to exam scores


·       Repurposing of class-time into a workshop where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge and interact with one another

·       Devote class-time to the application of concepts that might give instructors a better opportunity to detect errors in thinking (Educause)

·       Increased interaction between students and teachers

·       A shift in the responsibility for learning onto students

·       The ability for students to prepare at a time that suits them

·       An archive for teaching resources

·       Collaborative work between students

·       Increase in student engagement and shift from passive listening to active learning (Kennedy, C.)

·       Allows large research institutions to make the traditional lecture model more productive (Berrett, D.)

·       Pedagogical shift from teaching methods that involve static and monologic content delivery and opens room for conversation between student and instructors around the application of the course content and reflection of learning experiences



Kim, M. K., Kim, S. M., Khera, O., & Getman, J. (2014). The experience of three flipped classrooms in an urban university: an exploration of design principles. The Internet and Higher Education, 22, 37-50.