Flipped Classroom

Whether you're wondering what the "flipped classroom" conversation is all about, or you've been flipping your own classes for years, you'll find helpful resources on our new pages on "Flipping Your Class."

3 students discussing in a groupThe most common definition of a flipped class is one in which conventionally out-of-class activities are swapped with conventionally in-class activities. In many courses, a traditional model involves content-delivery during lecture followed by student practice at home. In a flipped model, students are introduced to course content before class, and classroom instruction time is used to guide students through the kinds of practice and skill-building opportunities that traditionally were assigned as homework.

Our new pages are focused on helping you determine what such a shift--which, depending on your current practice, might be subtle or radical--might look like in your classes. And we emphasize that flipping can make great use or no use at all of instructional technologies. Key topics these pages focus on include:

We also answer some commonly-asked questions about flipping. As always, if you have additional questions that aren't answered on these webpages, you are welcome to schedule a consultation with a member of the CRLT staff. 


Steve Skerlos (Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering), discovered that his graduate students, even those who were quite successful in his classes, were not retaining what they had learned in class in a way that they could apply that knowledge to research questions.  Additionally, Prof. Skerlos had a desire to shift his lecture-based courses to have more in common with senior design courses in engineering, i.e. the instructor and the students all working together to solve problems.  The following description of Prof. Skerlos’ flipped class is for his ME 499 course, Sustainable Engineering and Design.  Prof. Skerlos, though, has flipped many classes, including a 150-person undergraduate course.


Students’ First Exposure to Content

 In Prof. Skerlos’ classes, students must watch a video or read a case study prior to class.  In his course syllabus, Prof. Skerlos estimates that the video or reading component of the pre-class work should take about one hour.  Each student is expected to reflect upon the discussion questions posed by the instructor and, prior to class, submit one question that s/he would like the instructor to answer during class. Read more »


The following frequently asked questions provide insights on how to manage GSIs in a flipped classroom, best practices for managing student resistance, and a host of additional concerns commonly expressed by faculty.

What happens during the discussion section if the “lecture time” is used primarily for these in-class activities?

There are several ways that discussion sections can be altered in order to complement the flipped lecture components of the course. First, the discussion session might be a time for students to actively engage with additional examples, problems or concepts. For instance, there might be other learning objectives that can be satisfied in the discussion environment (e.g., writing workshops during discussion sections, additional problems solving in discussion). Alternatively, you might eliminate the use of discussion sections and integrate your graduate students in the lecture period by having them assist you with supporting student groups as they process the content supported by their in-class learning activities. Read more »


Tami Remington (College of Pharmacy), course director for the Self-Care Therapeutics course in the College of Pharmacy, and her colleagues wanted to provide more opportunities for their students to practice the skills they would need as practitioners.  In order to create these opportunities, the course instructors, as a group, decided to flip the course sequence using the team-based learning (TBL) pedagogy.  TBL challenges small, permanent student teams to apply foundational concepts to new problems.  Details about the TBL philosophy and pedagogy can be found at www.teambasedlearning.org.  Flipping a team-taught course has unique challenges, but the entire Therapeutics five-semester sequence now uses TBL.


Students’ First Exposure to Course Content

The College of Pharmacy faculty using TBL assign pre-work delivered in an array of media: “study guides” that they write themselves, parts of chapters from pharmaceutical textbooks, journal articles, previously recorded lectures and screencasts.  As a group, the faculty realized they had to strictly limit the amount of pre-work that they assigned, given that it takes novice pharmacists significantly longer to process and organize the information than it does an expert. Read more »


Michael Witgen (History, American Culture and Native American Studies) did not set out to “flip” his class.  He was inspired by colleagues to find some way to integrate technology into his 300-level History course, History of the American West.  Working with the Michigan Education through Learning Objects (MELO3D) community, Professor Witgen and his GSI team created a wiki for the course that, along with a coursepack, served as the course syllabus and textbook.  


Students’ First Exposure to Course Content

Each week of the course has its own webpage, which gives students access to the readings and study questions for each class session.  The course “readings” are primary source artifacts from the American West, ranging from images of maps created in the 1700s to letters from Noah Webster to YouTube videos of Daniel Boone cartoons.  The study questions serve as guides for students as they explore the pre-work for the class.

Student Accountability for the Pre-Work

Professor Witgen leverages two mechanisms for holding students accountable for engaging with the pre-work: pop quizzes and social pressures/peer accountability, as the students are expected to be prepared to contribute to small group discussions of the class readings in the face-to-face class session. Read more »