Welcome to the School’s first truly flipped classrooms

Published: 2018-11-05

Two new classrooms for flipped classroom education have been completed at the School during the summer. With new whiteboards, chairs and tables in place, everything is ready for new course content with one common goal: to let students learn more and better – while they and their teachers have a lot of fun on the way there.

”I think the 'flipped classroom' approach is very useful and enables a deeper understanding within the subject you are studying,” says student Amalia Larsson Hurtig.

The new classrooms have whiteboards along all the walls and no separate podium or lectern for the teacher. Instead, the course structure is based on the presumption that students read texts and watch relevant videos at home, before the lecture, and while at school, they sit in groups around tables and discuss what they’ve learned, together with other students and teachers.

“This means that we as teachers can get a completely different opportunity to create dynamics in the group and in the discussions. The idea is that the lecture is held by someone online, students study it from home and then work together in class. There may of course be students who prefer to sit and listen to a lecture. But with flipped classrooms, you get more varied forms of education and the opportunity to train more of your abilities. We see it as a good preparation for your future worklife, as it likely is based on interaction with other people and to argue for your position,” says Ola Mattisson, senior lecturer in Business administration and one of those who work to flip parts of their courses at the School of Economics and Management.

It’s a selection of courses, such as Business Policy (7.5 ECTS credits) at the Bachelor level, and Organization and Leadership (5 ECTS) in the Bachelor's Programme in International Business that obtain flipped content, as well as parts of the Master's programme in Management (MIM). The goal is to change the courses gradually, in order to be able to evaluate the outcome.

One of the teachers at the School of Economics and Management, who has worked with flipped content for several years, is senior lecturer Nadja Sörgärde. The response from her students in courses in leadership and organization has been very positive.

“Many students express that they learn more effectively and in-depth through this pedagogy, which is my impression too. Students also state that they feel more motivated to study,” says Nadja Sörgärde and continues:

”As a teacher working with flipped content, the preparations get more important in comparison to how I worked before. I carefully design the course and the exercises to support the learning process of the students. I also think more about how I explain the pedagogical idea to the students which is why the introduction lecture is very important to me. I want the students to get the prerequisites and motive to be active from day one.”

She has experimented a lot with the material that the students should read and watch before the session in class. Pedagogical course literature, suitable for self-study supports the set-up, as well as lectures on selected parts of the literature.

“What has worked best for me are short and dynamic pre-recorded power point lectures where the pictures and texts are in focus, not me as a lecturer.”

The most important part, according to Nadja Sörgärde, is actually not the videos, but the preparatory assignments. These are there to inspire, drive and guide the learning process.

Senior lecturer Matts Kärreman is also in the process of flipping parts of the content for the course Business Policy. He thinks of flipped classrooms as a way of making teaching more fun for the students and the teacher – while at the same time, students hopefully learn better.

“We want to encourage students to take on the models and concepts through early reading of the course literature. On a traditional course, they often read it at the last minute before the exam, despite all our best efforts. Now, we hope to provide feedback during the course and enable the student to respond to his or her learning process on time.”

One of the new classrooms for flipped education at LUSEM. Photo: Louise Larsson

Flipped classrooms

“Flipped classrooms” are based on students’ early reading and learning on their own, followed by practical group work and discussions at school, together with teachers and students. Early learning is often based on different types of digital tools, such as recorded videos and quizzes.

The flipped classrooms method is considered to be derived from the 1990’s and Eric Mazur, Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard University. He says that he based the approach on case methodology and sent his students home with ”the greatest invention in information technology”: a book. “Essentially, I had the students read the textbook before coming to class, rather than having me regurgitate the textbook in class,” says Eric Mazur.

The Lund University School of Economics and Management has set aside funds for pedagogical development which interested staff groups can apply for and in that way support the initiative on flipped classrooms.

Student comment

”I think the 'flipped classroom' approach is very useful and enables a deeper understanding within the subject you are studying. When reading through the material in advance, you can choose your own pace and study technique. It enables you to be focused and develop qualitative knowledge with inputs from other perspectives during the workshop.”

– Amalia Larsson Hurtig, student

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