In a recent post written in the Computing Education Blog, two studies were presented discussing the benefits of changing, reversing, and/or flipping the classroom model in order to increase student comprehension. In these studies, data was collected on how well students understood concepts when they were tested on the materials before studying and how beneficial hands-on learning and experimentation was before individual studying took place.
The first article, written by Daniel Willingham (Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia), talks about how students gain a better understanding in what they are learning when they try to generate the answer on their own first before reading and learning about it in books and other resources. As a result, there is a higher chance that students will retain and better understand concepts when they invest some initial effort in solving the problem. In essence, students benefit more from experimenting and doing rather than just studying.
When students are interacting with materials and concepts in the classroom, there is a direct connection present between the student and the subject being taught. When reading from a book or studying individually, students have a more distant relationship with the concepts because the students are invested in reading about the subject and not actually doing the experimentation.
The second article, written by David Plotnikoff for Stanford | News, talks similarly about the benefits of experimenting first in the classroom and studying later by introducing the flipped flipped classroom model. Originally, the flipped classroom is a learning model where students read assigned texts or watch videos first and then do the experimenting in the classroom second. By turning this upside down, you have a flipped flipped classroom, where students experiment and learn about the materials in the classroom first and then fill in the gaps and strengthen their understanding by introducing subsequent studying, which could include reading text, watching videos, and exploring other resources.
A study was conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Education with two groups of students: a flipped classroom group who studied first and then experimented, and a flipped flipped classroom group who experimented first and then studied. These two groups would perform the experiment about neuroscience and would be tested on the content in order to find out which group performed better. The flipped flipped classroom group showed a 30% increase in performance. When the two groups switched roles, the same results showed, where the new flipped flipped classroom group revealed a 25% increase in performance.
The results from both studies show how effective and beneficial hands-on experimentation and learning is when it is done prior to studying with books and other resources. The important thing to takeaway from this is how connected and concentrated students are with their learning. Understanding concepts from books can create a foreign and/or distant connection with students because they are learning through reading and not by actually doing the experimentation. To really get students to understand and feel genuinely interested in what they are learning, it seems that educators should allow students to experiment with concepts first, give corrective feedback if necessary, and allow them to fill in the gaps of their learning with additional resources that they can study on their own.
For more information about these studies, click on the links above in the post and here: