Flipped Classrooms

Flipped classrooms are a method of instruction and form of blended learning. This model gets its name from the way it “flips” the traditional classroom model. Using this method, students watch videos or listen to lectures at home. When they come to class meetings, instructors facilitate group work and other activities that would typically be considered “homework.”

The idea of flipped classrooms emerged from a 1993 publication by researcher Alison King called “From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side.” While the work did not explicitly call for the use of “flipping” classrooms, it did call for the use of class time to give meaning to the information students learn. For this assertion, King’s work is often considered the foundation for flipped classrooms.

Contributors:  Alison King

Key Concepts


There is no unilateral consensus on what constitutes a flipped classroom. Rather, the definition is expansive, and can describe nearly any structure in which lectures are pre-recorded and received at home and activities are facilitated during class meetings, thereby flipping the traditional class set-up.

Instead of lecturing during class time, instructors typically function as facilitators. They might use the time in-class to clarify information from the at-home lectures or to gauge student understanding and growth through various activities. Other instructors might only adopt some elements of the flipped classroom model, or to only flip some classes during the semester. The model is highly adaptable and able to suit a variety of class environments.


Many students in typical lecture-style classes report struggling to keep up with the speaker and retain the information that is being delivered. By giving pre-recorded lectures, students are able to take their time at home to listen, understand, and take notes. The lectures are also available later on for review alongside the students’ notes and activities from class, which can work as a study aid. All this aids student retention of information, engagement during class, and enhances their understanding of the material. [1]

In addition, for students with disabilities such as a hearing impairment, or for students for whom English a second language, having additional time to learn material before accessing and utilizing the information they have learned in class can be crucial. Using classroom meetings to practice applying a concept can help instructors to guide learning, and to help students to self-assess and redirect their focus.

Costs and Benefits

While there are significant benefits to the flipped classroom model, there are also some difficulties that may arise. For one, flipping the classroom requires significant preparation on the part of the instructor. Not only do they have to pre-plan and record their lectures, they also have to utilize technology to make them available to students and troubleshoot any errors that may arise. If their chosen technology fails, the student may not be able to receive the lecture, and will be unprepared for class. One some level, this is inevitable, but at the same time, it can disrupt student learning and derail class meeting time.

In the same respect, flipping the classroom places more responsibility on the student than in traditional models. As mentioned in the example above, it requires students to come to class prepared, which leaves a lot of room for potential derailment. However, at the same time, with this responsibility comes freedom: students might be more responsible for their own preparation, but they are able to do so however they choose, and class time is devoted to peer-to-peer interaction and personal experimentation. This promotes both social development through group and partner work, but also fosters independence and self-esteem as students put their knowledge to the test individually and collaboratively. [2]


  1. Herreid, C. F., & Schiller, N. A. (2013). Case studies and the flipped classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 42(5), 62-66.
  2. 2. Bishop, J. L., & Verleger, M. A. (2013, June). The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. In ASEE National Conference Proceedings, Atlanta, GA (Vol. 30, No. 9, pp. 1-18).