Why Flipped Classrooms Fail Part 3

· Peer Instruction

Flipped classrooms sometimes fall flat. In this third and final post, we continue our exploration of why flipped classrooms fail (see Part 1 and Part 2). You will gain diverse perspectives and new strategies from expert practitioners in K-12 and higher education including flipped learning pioneer, Aaron Sams.  This post is part of The Neighborhood, a special Turn To Your Neighbor series where we invite innovative educators from around the globe to discuss a variety of education topics. We encourage you to interact with us and contribute your own theories on flip class flops in the comments section or via Twitter.

R960iCeqAaron Sams, Educator, Author Consultant of Sams Learning Designs and Saint Vincent College.  The quickest way to derail a flipped classroom is to assign a video, get frustrated when a large percentage of the class did not view the video, then proceed to lecture the content. By doing so the teacher sends a message to the irresponsible student that the teacher will bail students out when they make bad choices and there is not motivation to make good choices. The teacher sends a message to the responsible student that their work was in vain and there is no motivation to complete the assigned work in the future. Instead, a teacher must have a procedure in place to monitor and deal with students who haven’t done their flipped assignment. Follow Aaron @chemicalsams

tcC0eaLH_400x400Crystal Kirch, Digital Learning Coach, Tustin Unified School District. Flipped classrooms fail when teachers do not design and differentiate the classroom learning environment based on student feedback and needs.  I believe teachers need to have a method (such as my WSQ method) to hold students accountable for engaging and interacting with the video content and to give them structured processing and reflection time after the video.  This helps to ensure students come to class ready to dive deeper and apply their knowledge, as well as gives the teacher information about specific student misconceptions to address during face to face time. Follow Crystal @cystalkirch

HgLUWpjRKen Bauer, Associate Professor and Board Member, Tecnológico de Monterrey and Flipped Learning Network. Flipped classrooms fail when there is a mismatch of understanding of responsibilities. In general, students are waiting for faculty to “teach them” and the newly flipped teacher is eager for the students to grab this amazing opportunity to have control. This shift requires time and a building of trust in the learner/mentor relationship. In my experience, some students embrace this easily, the majority take a few months and others will take much longer to embrace this change; learning is a social process and a relationship of trust is essential. Follow Ken @ken_bauer


Helaine W. Marshall, Director of Language Education Programs and Associate Professor of Education and Board Member, LIU Hudson and Flipped Learning Network. One reason for failure stems from the mindset of the educator – that flipped learning is a single concept. As with Untitledany comprehensive approach, flipped learning consists interlocking concepts that work together. Unfortunately, due to misconceptions, or the tendency towards expediency, some educators simply flip the classwork and the homework and call that flipped learning. Or, they may assess the students in traditional ways that do not reflect their mastery of deeper learning, such as standardized tests that favor discrete point evaluation techniques. And so on. Without implementing ALL of the elements of the flipped learning approach, success may prove elusive. Those who pick and choose do so at their peril. Follow Helaine @lainemarsh


image1Matthew Whitson, Teacher, English 1, Weatherford ISD. In my opinion flipped classrooms fail because of fear.  Fear of the unknown factors that may drive or derail learning. Fear that people will not see the model as a legitimate model in spite of the research. As a teaching society we are slow to allow ourselves to relinquish control of that which we hold most dear out of fear.  Our sense of control can empower us and give us comfort, but in retaining this control we fail to ask ourselves the question, “What would our society be like if learning really did have no walls and access for all?” Follow Matthew @mwhitsonmroo


Julie Schell, Clinical Assistant Professor, Director, and Board Member, The University of Texas at Austin and Flipped Learning Network.  Student resistance is the surest way to kill a flipped classroom dead in the water. When I first started using my favorite flipped method, Peer Instruction, at Columba University a student said to my face, “I am not paying $3,000 to sit in your class and learn from novice peers!” In the worst cases, student resistance shows up in the form of a down right revolt (i.e. students create an anti-you Facebook group or write no confidence letters to your chair). Often, resistance is showcased in horrible end-of -course evaluations that have their own brand of anonymous vitriol.  It can also be more subtle and show up as a red herring. In Peer Instruction this often happens when students argue about unimportant details in clicker questions, like typos, to avoid the having to confront their own misconceptions in front of peers. Most humans have an internal drive to feel successful. Our students come to flipped classrooms with the deeply ingrained belief that education means passively sitting at the feet of the most admirable professors soaking up all of their knowledge and that they cannot be successful any other way. Follow Julie @julieschell



IMG_5256Even with these very common bumps, thousands of flipped classrooms around the world succeed. By practicing some of the strategies in these three posts my colleagues and I hope you will avoid the common pitfalls we have all blundered through. When students engage, like those in Professor Mizokami’s psychology class in Kyoto Japan, the power of flipped classrooms prevails.


1 Comment

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  1. daveeckstrom

    “a teacher must have a procedure in place to monitor and DEAL WITH STUDENTS WHO HAVEN’T DONE THEIR flipped ASSIGNMENT” (emphasis mine)

    And we’re back to why school is broken in the first place . . . teachers with methods in place for reward and punishment base on compliance.

    If a kid doesn’t want to watch my videos but wants to learn some other way, how am I pretending that a flipped classroom is some kind of innovative pedagogy? What is student-centered about forcing compliance to my preferences?

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