Who cracks the whip in a flipped classroom?

It's not the prof (puuikibeach via Flickr)
cracking-whip
It's not the prof (puuikibeach via Flickr)

In my talks with St. Mary's University of Minnesota business professor Shelly McCallum and recent graduate Erik Qvale over the benefits of a flipped classroom, I learned that it's actually more work -- for both faculty and students -- than the average class.

In flipped classrooms, students watch lecture videos and read texts to prepare for class. Once they're in the classroom, they discuss the material and do exercises to apply what they know. The benefits are supposed to be increased comprehension and understanding.

The key word there: "prepare."

But do they? In college, I had my off days when I crept into class, said nothing and hoped I could stay under the professor's radar.

Apparently, that didn't happen much at all in McCallum's flipped classroom because of one thing: Peer pressure.

Qvale told me:

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"You didn't have to listen to the lecture. But then everybody in the classroom would know you didn't, because you couldn't really answer the questions in the activities. There were kids in the first two weeks of class you could tell had not listened to the lectures. But it got to the point they would volunteer [to answer questions] to show they'd listened and read."

McCallum agreed:

"There were a flew slackers. But even the slackers pulled up their socks. It was an interesting thing, because there was tremendous pressure -- not from me, but from the group. ... It's one thing to get that pressure from a faculty member. It's a whole different game when you're feeling it from your peer group. It was magical."