Teaching Tip #4: Consider the “Flip”

What is it?

To “flip” a class means taking content you would typically deliver via in-class lecture and moving that content outside of class time by posting mini-lecture videos and other materials online, and holding students accountable for learning it on their own.  This frees up class time for use as “workshop” time in which students do the more difficult work of learning to apply the concepts in collaborative problem-solving activities.  Flipping the classroom is gaining momentum as a teaching approach that effectively improves student learning.

Why Should I Try It?

Research has shown that flipping the classroom can lead to increased motivation, deeper learning, and greater student engagement.  Team-based learning, in particular, has been found to increase academic performance, mastery and retention, particularly for students who are struggling.  This approach of incorporating small group work and collaboration into class time can motivate students to come prepared to contribute to discussions, while getting immediate feedback from their peers to help fill gaps in their own understanding of the content.

What Does it Take?

Successfully flipping a course requires careful thought about the kind of thinking you want students to do with course material.  That critical-thinking becomes the heart of your in-class application activities.  What kinds of decisions do you want students to use your material to make?  What kinds of problems will they use it to solve?  Clarifying these goals for yourself will then make the process of designing activities and determining course materials much easier.  Even so, flipping a course can seem like a daunting task, but the good news is that you need not do it all at once—flipping one lesson or unit at a time is an effective approach to this kind of instructional evolution.  When it comes time to experience the flip, you’ll find yourself more often in the role of a coach or a mentor, and less often seen as a distant authority figure.


Koles, P. G., Stolfi, A., Borges, N. J., Nelson, S., & Parmelee, D. X. (2010). The impact of team-based learning on medical studentsʼ academic performance: Academic Medicine85(11), 1739–1745.

McLaughlin, J. E., Roth, M. T., Glatt, D. M., Gharkholonarehe, N., Davidson, C. A., Griffin, L. M., Esserman, D. A., & Mumper, R. J. (2014). The flipped classroom: A course redesign to foster learning and engagement in a health professions school. Academic Medicine89(2), 236–243.