Bentley, Steve, Allan, Robert and Belton, Daniel J. (2014) Flipping the Classroom with Peer Instruction - How Effective Is It? In: eLearning 2.0, 23 July 2014, Brunel Business School. (Unpublished)

The didactic lecture has prevailed as a cornerstone of most Higher Education courses in spite of a succession of studies published over several decades (eg Gibbs, 1981) which suggest that other means of learning can be more effective. One of the main arguments for continuing to lecture was the cost of providing printed reading material. The near ubiquity of internet access and widespread provision of electronic library resources makes it questionable whether this remains a valid reason to continue with a practice which has been empirically shown to be less effective than alternatives.

We present case studies from three scientific and one business disciplines which replaced didactic lectures with self-study materials such as notes and screencasts produced by the tutor and videos, television programmes, journal papers and book extracts made available by third parties. These resources were used to “cover the material” freeing up the contact time for more interactive, collaborative activities which facilitate a greater depth of understanding, when students have the advantage of access to the tutor and their peers.

Just in Time Teaching (Novak et al, 1999) is used to provide an incentive for students to engage with the prescribed materials, and to provide feedback to the tutor on how well they have understood the material. Students complete a short online quiz, which may be formative or summative, which also has a free-text question asking them to reflect on the areas with which they have struggled or where they don’t feel they understand the material. This feedback and the scores from the quiz influence the areas which the tutor addresses in the lecture.

The lecture uses Peer Instruction (Mazur, 1997) to ensure that all students are engaged rather than the passive consumption which occurs in didactic lectures. Using handheld voting devices, students are asked to vote, individually, on a multiple choice question called a ConcepTest. Then, in pairs or small groups, they discuss their answer with other students who had different solutions. A further vote takes place and generally shows that more students have the correct answer, having either been persuaded by a colleague or having realised, through the process of defending their answer, why they were wrong.

We consider how students engage with the material they are asked to study, whether the flipped classroom increases student assessment scores and whether learners prefer the flipped model of delivery to traditional didactic lectures. We also share our experience of using Peer Instruction and offer some perspectives on the design of successful ConcepTest questions.

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