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Culling Flipped Classroom Best Practices from Successful Implementations

The Growing Body of Measured Evidence Supporting the Effectiveness of Flipped Instruction is a Trove of Good Practices to Learn From

The flipped classroom has been around for years now, and it has matured from a new concept – to a ‘trend’ – to a technique that is now ripe for widespread adoption. The use of the technique has evolved to the point that we are seeing a proliferation of published reports sharing measured successes. These stories can readily be culled for practices that have helped to turn the use of flipped teaching and learning techniques into improved learning outcomes in those schools.

Flipped Classroom Best Practices Missouri State U

I’m leveraging the growing body of flipped classroom success stories that are backed with empirical evidence as I prepare my presentation for UB Tech 2014 next month. I will be delivering a breakout session titled, “Flipped Classroom Success Stories (and How to Make Yours Happen!)“.

Here is one article that shares quantified improvements in learning outcomes in the flipped classroom. I have summarized the article and identified three practices that I have also seen in other successful implementations. I’ll be sharing practices from other similar article in the coming weeks.

Article: Missouri State U Improves Learning Outcomes With Flipped Course


In 2010, public 4 year colleges and universities throughout the state of Missouri undertook a collaborative initiative with the goal of transformation courses and improving on student learning outcomes and reduce costs. Each school committed to redesigning one large enrollment course with poor learning outcomes or high ‘DFW’ rates (grades of D or F or Withdrawals).

Universities engaged in a competitive process to determine which schools would redesign which courses. “The competitive process was intended to ensure that each university redesigned a different course — creating a pool of redesigned courses that universities could potentially share with each other.”

Missouri State University was selected to redesign its Introductory Psychology course. They hoped to improve in the following issues:

  • A DFW rate around 24 percent
  • Modest student learning outcomes (approx. 30% improvement from pre-course-test to post-course-test scores).
  • Significant “course drift,” with up to 18 sections a year taught by many different faculty members using different textbooks and vastly differing syllabi.

“We did a lot of reading of the literature and we knew pedagogically we wanted to break this course down and start over,” said Danae Hudson, associate professor of psychology. That reading led them to select a flipped classroom model. “We really wanted … students to be engaged with the material because prior to this they weren’t”. Hudson thinks the term “scrambled class” better fits the model of the redesigned Intro Psych class.

  • Practice – Using Class Time for Active Learning
    “We’re flipped in that we assign homework and technology-based activities, so [students] have to do their online work before coming to class, and then in class we’re able to focus more on activities, demonstrations and some lecture. But it’s very much activity-based because they’ve actually done the work prior to coming to class and they’re familiar with the content,” said Hudson.
  • Practice – Personalized Learning (with the help of a nice dose of Learning Analytics): The MSU model incorporated MyPsychLab, an online homework, tutorial and assessment tool from Pearson.
    “MyPsychLab provides individualized student data for instructors and individualized learning for students, two of the main criteria on the department’s wish list. “I can see how much time students are spending in MyPsychLab. I can see how many attempts they’ve made on their post-test and a lot of other information that’s useful for me as an instructor,” said Hudson. The tool also lets instructors assign a study plan for students. “They take a pre-test, and based on their score it generates an individualized study plan for them so they don’t have to spend time working on concepts they already understand,” said Hudson.”
  • Practice – Customized Learning Materials
    “MSU worked closely with Pearson to customize the textbook, MyPsychLab software and study plan. “We have customized almost everything we can customize to make it exactly what we want,” said Hudson. “We had some very clear ideas on what we wanted to do, and as a result, it has actually changed many aspects of MyPsychLab itself because Pearson has pushed some of our changes out to everyone.””


  • There was a 76 percent improvement in pre-course-test to post-course-test scores
  • The DFW Rate was reduced from approx. 24% to 18.2%, a significant reduction

“When you think about it in terms of dollars and retention, that’s pretty significant”, said Hudson.


So here we see three Best Practices for successful flipped teaching and learning:

  • Using Class Time for Active Learning: One of the primary goals of the flipped classroom is changing how we use class time, and Active Learning (in its many different forms) is often a mainstay in the most successful flipped classroom environments.
  • Personalized Learning: Of course, another fundamental goal of flipped instruction is creating a teaching and learning environment that facilitates personalized or individualized instruction. This is one of the things that most intrigued me about the flip when I first learned of it. The potential benefit of adopting teaching to the needs of each individual student have been a pie-in-the-sky ultimate objective of education for years, but it was not attainable with the traditional model of education. The flipped classroom creates a situation in which a degree of personalized learning truly is possible. 
  • Customized Learning Materials: Successful flipped instruction typically includes some degree of customized learning materials. These may be screencasts, or a specialized text book, or maybe just custom-delivered pre-existing content. Remember, even though custom learning materials are often a part of flipped instruction, this doesn’t mean you have to spedn huge amounts of time creating lots of custom content. You can start small and leverage existing content in unique ways (something I emphasize and facilitate in my flipped classroom training).

That’s just one case of reported measured success – I’ll share several more in the coming weeks. In the meanwhile, happy flipping!

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