The Characteristics of Successful Flipped Learning Experiences

successful flipped classroom

If your flipped classroom isn't working the way you thought it would, step back and take a closer look.  One of these seven characteristics is probably missing.

Many faculty members report frustration with students coming to class unprepared or unmotivated which makes it difficult to implement flipped or active learning strategies.

After all, if students don't do the pre-class work, how can they effectively participate in activities that require them to engage in higher level learning experiences?

While this is one of the most common challenges about the flipped classroom, there are other variables that can affect the success of the model.

Here are the characteristics of successful flipped learning experiences from my book The FLIP It Success Guide: The 7 Characteristics of Successful Flipped Classrooms and Active Learning Experiences


Let's take a brief look at three of the characteristics you need to pay attention to so you can create a successful flipped classroom:

1. The Instructor (You!):

You are the most important part of the flipped classroom. You create the learning environment. You share your experiences, enthusiasm, and wisdom. You model the process of learning, thinking, and questioning ideas. Your guidance shapes the flipped learning experience and makes it a positive or negative one for you and your students.

What you’ll notice if you aren't paying attention to yourself and your needs: 

If you aren't in a place where you can dedicate the time, energy, and state of mind needed to FLIP it, then you may experience increased stress and decreased motivation which leads to burnout. Or you may feel overwhelmed or uncertain about your new role as a "guide on the side."

What to do: 

You may need to step back and re-focus on what you are flipping and why. Remember, don’t FLIP everything. Start by looking for "flippable moments." Look for places of confusion. Look for boredom. And look for the fundamentals. What is it that students absolutely must know?

Look for reading groups or learning communities (on your campus or online) to help you share your experiences and learn ways to enhance your facilitation skills in the flipped classroom.

2. Learners:

Your students enter this flipped classroom with a variety of expectations, prior experiences, and goals. They may be anxious about this type of learning experience. They may feel uncertain about their role in this space.

Or, they may not understand how they are going to be evaluated in such a collaborative environment. They may need to see the value of the model before investing in it.

What you’ll notice if you aren't paying attention to your learners:

You will notice an increase in student resistance when students are uncertain, frustrated, or unmotivated. They may come to class unprepared. They may choose not to participate in activities.

What to do: 

You may need to reconsider how the pre-class work is structured and whether or not students see the value of the flipped model (for more strategies, download this free whitepaper). I also recommend not naming your classroom as a “flipped” classroom. The word can be interpreted so many different ways and it may not reflect your definition or expectations.

3. Content:

What you teach will influence how you implement the flipped learning model. The flipped classroom model and active learning strategies can be applied to every discipline, but it will look a little different depending on the topic. It’s important for you to know your discipline and how to prepare students for the challenges they will face within the profession (and beyond).

What you’ll notice if you aren't paying attention to your content: 

If you are using flipped strategies that aren’t connected to the content of what you teach, then students may be busy and active, but they are not learning. They may be talking and interacting, but they’re missing why it matters. Students may perceive these flipped activities as “busy work” and they will not see the value of participating.

What to do:

You need to make sure the activities you design are appropriate for the discipline and that students know why it matters when they participate. Talk with other colleagues in your discipline to see what content they are redesigning to work with the flipped model.

All three of these factors influence the reality of your teaching situation, and you need to consider the impact they will have on your ability to implement the flipped classroom model. 

If you are already implementing the flipped model in your teaching and it’s not going as well as you hoped, step back and look at these characteristics to see if there are changes you can make to improve the learning experience for you and your students.

Get the FLIP It Success Guide