The Flaws of Flipped Classrooms

Every week, the average student spends 30 or more hours in school. In addition, students spend several hours every weeknight completing worksheets, studying, and most recently, teaching themselves. The flipped classrooms, or “a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements are reversed” (Seven), is a new strategy that many teachers and schools are implementing.

Instead of the classic method in which students learn new material at school and then do work at home, there seems to be a new method to better learning. While many teachers believe flipped classrooms are beneficial to their students, in reality they cause teachers to be unaware of their students progress, fill up students’ after school schedules, and require specific resources. In a flipped classroom setting teachers may be uncertain about their students’ progress while learning at home. Instead of teaching in class, teachers who use the flipped classroom method assign their students to teach themselves new material every night and, subsequently,work on application of that material in the classroom. This strategy leads to several problems. In every classroom there are always a number of students who do not put in effort on their own time.

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This type of instruction strategy “is completely dependent on student buy-in” and demonstrates that “successful implementation requires that students truly engage in the lecture material outside of class” (Heyborne). As a result, some students do not learn all of the material that is required for testing. Also, many students have trouble teaching themselves, and reading textbooks and taking notes on their own. William Heyborne, a professor at the University of Southern Utah states that “the teacher is no longer the sole source of information; anyone who has taught knows the challenges associated with convincing students to spend worthwhile time with a textbook” (Heyborne). He believes that even if the student has the time to teach him or herself, most students have trouble using the time to learn and understand assigned material.

Moreover, certain students have complained about loss of teacher-to-student lectures as long as the assigned material is open to anyone on the internet. Students like this “wonder what their tuition brings them that they could not have gotten by surfing the web” (Seven). Therefore, flipped classrooms fail to encourage students to learn new material on their own. Additionally, there are limitations with students after-school schedules. For flipped classrooms to be effective, a large amount of time and effort is needed for students in the evening and night hours.

Flipped classrooms limit students from engaging in other extracurricular activities after school. The average student already spends 31.6 hours a week in school. With the implementation of students teaching themselves after school, student homework time after school would increase. Do we really want to add more to the average student’s workload, preventing them from other activities? “After spending most of their waking hours in school and setting aside time for healthy amounts of sleep, teens and adolescents have few hours left to spend with the people that are important to them and to explore their own interests, behaviors that experts say can be key influences in choosing satisfying future careers” (Homework). I have personally experienced flipped classrooms and have experienced similar effects.

Some nights, I had to spend several hours attempting to fully grasp the concepts that I would be tested on. This prevented me from attending extracurricular activities such as soccer practice and my church youth group several times throughout the year. Finally, effective flipped classrooms require specific resources for both students and teachers. Composing and recording videos daily for students demands a great amount of time and effort for teachers. “Out-of-class and in-class elements must be carefully integrated for students to understand the model and be motivated to prepare for class” (Educause).

Certain teachers who implement the flipped method are unable to effectively construct online lectures. “Introducing a flip can mean additional work and may require new skills for the instructor” (Educause). For students, access to computers and internet connection may vary depending on the resources they have at home. In any classroom or even school district there is a wide variety of parental income.On one side of the spectrum, a wealthy student may have a $2,000 MacBook Pro and lightning fast internet connection while a student on the opposite side may have to share an old computer with several siblings. Seven Things You Should Know about Flipped Classrooms states, “even when students embrace the model (flipped classroom), their equipment and access might not always support rapid delivery of the video” (Seven).

Why create a learning environment that gives some students an upper hand on learning? Many claim that flipped classrooms can be more beneficial to students than the regular classroom model. Bronwyn McDonald, a journalist at the Newcastle Herald, emphasizes in an article on the “Positives and Pitfalls of Flipped Learning” that “student led educations can be more engaging and more relevant for students, both which are important” (McDonald). Despite this statement’s validity, a major problem remains. It is challenging to ensure that every student is covering what the teacher assigns without preceding insight on the topic. Furthermore, this “new” method of teaching, which claims to shift students to teach themselves, is no different than the regular model. “The traditional model of learning is simply being reversed, instead of being reinvented.

The lecture (live or on video) is still front and center” (Wright). There truly is no reinvention of learning though many teachers believe there is. Instead, the same methods are being used but the ways in which they are used is detrimental to students’ learning. Using the flipped classroom method proves not to be the answer to improve students learning. Every student is diverse and learns in a distinct way and pace, but the flipped classroom technique is illogical. No certain way of learning will ensure every student success.

The usual lecture and homework method allows teachers to track their student’s pace, limits the amount of homework given and prevents the need for new resources. Are flipped classrooms used in your schools? Write to or schedule a meeting with your principal and question what methods are used throughout your school and why. If they are used, express your opposition to the flipped classroom method in your school and explain why the traditional method is more beneficial to students.