Blog Post

03. Duke Flipping the Classroom Faculty Panel - STEM Flips, TBL, POGIL, and STEAMy Digital Humanities

As Kathi Inman Berens recently described here on HASTAC and on Hybrid Pedagogy, there seems to be a disconnect - which she visualizes using "STEM Flip <> HUM Flip" - between the methods STEM disciplines and Humanities disciplines use to 'flip' our classes. (Nota Bene: See Cathy Davidson on doing classroom cartwheels instead of flips...) I'd like to take that up here adding my own experiences as part of a blended Faculty Flipping community. It is perhaps worth noting that I've put 'flip' and 'flipping' here in quotes to reflect the liminal situation of the term - one could equally argue that the term is either problematically ill-defined or pragmatically distinguished by disciplinary boundaries. In either case, there still remains a great deal of individual flexibility in the term's definition and that flexibility is the topic of this post.

At the beginning of the Duke academic teaching year, I was honored to be named a Duke CIT Faculty Flipping the Classroom Fellow. I joined about a dozen other distinguished faculty and we've been working together regularly this year to share, invent, collaborate, and innovate.

Yesterday, I joined a panel of two other faculty Flipping Fellows to speak to a crowd of Duke faculty and graduate instructors about our varied experiences 'flipping' our classrooms. The panel included faculty members Dorian Canelas (Duke Chemistry) and Steve Kelly (Duke Sanford School of Public Policy), and myself, Amanda Starling Gould (Duke Program in Literature). Though we have different definitions and different manifestations of 'flipping', we all seem to privilige dynamic learning environments that push the boundaries of disciplinary teaching standards.

Dori spoke about 'flipping' her organic chemistry course. As a member of the Duke Faculty Flipping Committee, Dori began her 'flipped' teaching by conducting an experiment: she taught two sections of organic chemistry 'flipping' only one. Throughout the semester, she accumulated a rather great amount of statistical data on both student performance and student attitudes toward the two methods. The student consensus was that the 'flipped' class students felt more confident about their learned knowledge and they took away too new skills for process thinking and enhanced skills working in teams on critical problems. Her method for the 'flipped' class consists of video/reading prep outside of class and "student-centered learning activities" in class. She combines her favorite qualities of Team-Based Learning (TBL) and Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) methods to create rotating small groups that collaborate on the in-class problem sets and exercises.

Steve spoke about 'flipping' his public policy course. His method is a stricter version of Team-Based Learning (TBL) with a course format based on pre-class readings and in-class group work. The students do case studies, collaborate on quizzes, and spend their in-class time doing the real work of public policy makers. Steve has even started creating videos to explain complex or complicated topics.

I spoke about my literary digital humanities writing course, Augmenting Realities. I 'flip' my literary digital humanities course by having a fully digital pedagogy environment (using Adeline Koh and Brian Croxall's fantastic definition) whereby we prep outside of class so that we can "SEE" Share, Experiment, and Explore collaboratively in class. (One could use "SEEK" instead if you allow the phonetic C to masquerade as a K for the SEEK acronym). We read and write in digital environments. We tweet with the authors of our novels, we digitally annotate graphic novel pages, we collaboratively annotate texts using platforms like RapGenius, we collaboratively read texts (one chapter per student) and the students 'teach' these in class, we use google docs to make shared reading notes and/or to note-take collaboratively live during class, we blog, we tinker, we hack. Our favorite assignments: the Literary Google Glass App Challenge, the final project where each student created a 'transmedia' essay that we collected into a jointly-authored online webjournal, the impossible final project one-slide presentation where each student was allowed one slide and then three minutes to describe how that one slide represented their entire final transmedia essay project.

Though varied in our methods it is perhaps this variety that makes our blended flipping faculty community so instructive for all involved. I feel like the lucky one with space to experiment (as a grad student and an instructor of the humanities graced with smaller-sized courses) but it does seem that no matter the discipline or flipping method, nearly all students seem to prefer courses taught this way. From Steve, we learn how to integrate team-based, hands-on 'real' life case study work: he has his students prepare outside of class so that in class, they can actually do the work of public policy makers and "make policy" instead of sitting through data-heavy lectures. From Dorian, we learn how we might scale up. Steve and I teach smaller seminar courses of less than 20 students. Dorian teaches upward toward 200. The innovation and hands-on engagement she manages with her teaching reminds us that even large courses can be enhanced using creative pedagogical techniques. Dorian graciously told the crowd yesterday that even she takes and tweaks tidbits from my digital humanities program and tries to integrate those into hers. I highly recommend joining and/or creating such a community.

Huge kudos to one of my mentors, Cathy Davidson for her endless innovation in this field.

Update: If interested in learning more about my #augrealities course assignments, please see my two recent posts, Digital Pedagogy Project: Teaching the Transmedia Essay & Digitally Annotating the Graphic Novel: Digital Pedagogy Project, both contributions to the forthcoming HASTAC Digital Pedagogy Project publication.

Amanda Starling Gould



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