Flipping the Classroom

Flipping the classroom is a response to the idea that class time can be used to engage students in learning through  active learning  techniques, rather than through delivering lectures alone. It is the process of replacing traditional lectures with more student-centered learning strategies, such as  active learning,  discussions,  problem-based learning, and other forms of  group work and peer instruction. Content delivery is moved outside of the classroom, often through  videos or pre-class readings. 

There is no one formula for flipping a class, as the amount of flipping can vary from course to course and class to class. Here are examples from both ends of the spectrum: 

  • An instructor integrates a 5-10-minute hands-on learning activity into a class period and consequently lectures for 5-10 minutes less.
  • An instructor designs a course in which the content is delivered completely through video segments, pre-class reading, and exercises, while class time is used entirely for  group work activities.

Why Flip the Classroom?

  • Moving content outside of the classroom allows for more class time to be spent on engaging learning activities such as  peer instruction  or  active learning. 
  • Interactive teaching techniques, such as the two mentioned above, have been shown to enhance learning (Crouch & Mazur, 2001; Deslauriers, Schelew & Wieman, 2011).
  • With the advent of technology that can more easily facilitate content delivery, such as  lecture capture,  videos, podcasts, and other online information, there are multiple ways for learners to access knowledge. The lecture is less essential to content delivery than it once was.
  • Students report that they prefer courses that have online components (Dahlstrom, 2012).

Considerations for Flipping the Classroom

Moving learning outside of the class requires students to self-regulate their learning. In order to support students in doing so, try these techniques:

  • Communicate how much time-on-task is expected for each learning activity.
  • Provide a  rubric  to articulate what assignment outcomes are expected and how they will be assessed.
  • Encourage students to create a learning plan. This is more crucial for courses that require a lot of online work.
  • Break larger online assignments up into smaller pieces and create staggered deadlines along the way. 
  • Incorporate peer feedback. For example, if students are required to post reading responses, include responses to peers’ as part of the assignment.
  • Include incentives for completing online or out of class assignments. For example, for reading assignments, require students to do a pre-class quiz on Canvas and have these quizzes be a small part of students’ grades. Alternatively, give a quick five-minute quiz at the beginning of a class session and allow students to earn bonus points for correct answers.
  • For required pre-class quizzes, Canvas' Prerequisites feature allows you to provide students with additional information only when they complete a quiz.
  • Discuss the expectation you have for students to preview content before class. Instill accountability for pre-class activities by noting that not doing them decreases the value of class session activities for both themselves and the students they work with. Students should be held responsible for not letting themselves or their classmates down.  Establishing ground rules  can help. 

Be aware that the effectiveness of your class activities can be influenced by whether or not students have come to class prepared. Think ahead about how you will incentivize students to complete their pre-class assignments.  Faculty Focus offers an article with two strategies for getting students to do the reading.

Getting Started with Flipping the Classroom

Start small. Choose one class and one new activity that you would like to try. 

Keep the following questions in mind:

  • How can I deliver content to students outside of class in meaningful ways?
  • What can students do in class that encourages meaningful learning?

Strategies to use:

  • Assign pre-class readings and have students complete a quiz on this reading prior to class.
  • Create  videos that explore a topic and require students to watch them before class. 
  • Integrate quizzes or some other kind of activity that engages students with the material, such as having students come to class with one or two questions they have about the topic.
  • Have students contribute to online discussions by requiring them to find, post, and draw connections to relevant online information.

Learning opportunities:

  • Active learning techniques: Allow students to apply concepts in class where they can ask peers or instructors for feedback and clarification. 
  • Peer instruction: Students can teach each other by explaining concepts or working on small problems. 
  • Collaborative Learning: There are a number of activities students can do to enhance understanding and provide opportunities to apply knowledge.
  • Group work: If group work is one of the ways you plan on assessing your students, giving them time in class to do their activities alleviates the inconvenience of holding meetings outside of class time (ultimately leading to fewer issues of participation), and gives you a chance to check in on how things are going.
  • Problem-based learning: Class time can be spent working on problems that can last for the duration of a semester. 
  • Discussions  or debates: Give students the opportunity to articulate their thoughts on the spot and to develop their arguments in support of their opinions or claims.

 Assessment opportunities:

  • Having students engage with working on assignments in class gives you the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback. 
  • Students can also provide peer feedback  to each other and respond to feedback they receive. This encourages a dialogue on student work and focuses on the process rather than on the final product. It also ensures that students receive feedback regularly and gives students practice at assessing work.


Crouch, C. H., & Mazur, E. (2001). Peer instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics Teachers, 69(9), 970-977.

Dahlstrom, E. (2012, September). ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2012. EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research.

Deslauriers, L., Schelew, E., & Wieman, C. (2011). Improved learning in a large-enrollment physics class. Science, 332(6031), 862-864.