Why Liberty’s flip teaching isn’t working

Jacqueline Rayfield, Opinion Editor

Recently, Liberty’s Pre-Calculus teachers have joined the ranks of teachers using flip teaching. This experimental Pre-Calculus unit is meant to test whether this new teaching technique will be effective at Liberty.

Though flip teaching has been found to produce exceptional results in other schools, for classes at Liberty with a diverse range of students, the old teaching techniques work best.

Across the United States, the “flipped classroom” technique has proved quite successful. The idea behind this teaching technique is to create a more dynamic, question-based classroom. Instead of learning the material in class and practicing at home, students learn the basics as homework and do traditional homework in class with the teacher present to answer questions. While this method often uses videos and podcasts to teach the material at home, it can involve other at-home learning techniques.

In a case study led by Pearson Education at Clintondale High School, grades and passing rates of at risk students improved after just one year of flipping the classrooms. Another study at Byron High school found that flipping math classes resulted in a 12% increase in test scores for Algebra 2, 11% for Pre-Calculus, and 9% for Calculus.

These studies suggest that flipping Liberty’s Pre-Calculus classes would be beneficial for the students. However, students in these classes can often be heard complaining that flip teaching is not effective for them or even that it is just an excuse for teachers not to teach.

The difference between Liberty’s attitude towards flip teaching and the classrooms at successfully flipped high schools like Clintondale can be accounted for by the length of the video lectures. At Clintondale, the videos were found to be most effective when kept to about 3-6 minutes, while at Liberty the videos can sometimes reach an hour long.

For classes like Mark Buchli’s Honors Physics, where students are expecting a large homework load, the flipped classroom works well, but for Pre-Calculus, many students aren’t willing to watch the long videos. Pre-Calculus teacher Kristi Hafferty reported that only 80 of the 200 plus students had viewed one of the video lessons. While the interactive environment for homework is helpful, it is not enough to teach the lessons if the work done at home isn’t effective.

The problem is not with flip teaching itself, but with the way it is being implemented at Liberty. Pre-Calculus teachers should either find a more effective way of utilizing this teaching style, or return to their old technique.