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Lund University School of Economics and Management

New classrooms flip the lectures upside-down

Published: 2018-10-24

Whiteboards lines the walls and the chairs are facing each other, around grey, round tables. Students debate, write on the boards, discuss with their teacher. They are the first participants in the first truly flipped classrooms at Lund University School of Economics and Management.

“The shift is about moving time and space for students. 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 want to create better learning conditions. We hope to provide feedback during the course and enable the student to respond to his or her learning process on time,” says senior lecturer Matts Kärreman, who together with colleagues are working on transforming some of their courses.

A selection of courses obtain flipped content, such as Business Policy (7.5 ECTS) at the Bachelor level, and Organization and Leadership (5 ECTS) in the Bachelor's Programme in International Business, 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.

“We started the transformed course in Business Policy with semi-traditional lectures, where we also provided reading instructions for the students who can then go home and watch videos and other material. Then we meet again for discussions and to work on cases in smaller groups. The students perform better when they feel that they are seen by the teacher. We hope to use the contact time we have in the best possible way. It will be both more fun for them, and for us,” says Matts Kärreman.

Some teachers at the School of Economics and Management have flipped parts of their courses for a couple of years, but having classrooms for this specific method is something new. The rooms in question bear the numbers 131 and 134 and are found close to the Holger Crafoord lecture hall. Inspiration comes from the Faculty of Medicine.

”We’ve visited the Faculty of Medicine for workshops and seen their classroom for flipped education. They’ve been so welcoming and generous, sharing plans for lessons and even more practical things, such as using small ‘boards’ with headlines for each group of students. We appreciate that we have been able to learn from colleagues from other faculties. This is something where we can all share and learn from each other,” says Ola Mattisson after one of his own first classes in the new rooms.

At the Faculty of Medicine, flipped content is used as an alternative to problem-based learning (PBL). It is mostly used at courses with a smaller number of students, such as within Biomedicine and Occupational therapy. Lessons from the Faculty of Medicine includes that teachers don’t have to reinvent the wheel, saying that they don’t have to record their own lessons and upload to the web. Previously recorded material is plentiful, so why not use it? Another lesson is that teachers nevertheless needs both good facilities, as well as time to find the right structure for their flipped lessons.

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 has been very affirmative, she says.

”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 a lot, 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.

”I’m not claiming that the flipped classroom pedagogy is any miracle cure, the number of students who fails has not decreased. However, I can see a significant increase in the number of students who are actively involved and study throughout the course, which is notable in exam results too. I have also more frequently noticed ‘aha moments’, when students realize they've really learned and understood,” says Nadja Sörgärde.

Ola about ... Feedback and layout
”The challenge for teachers is to find time to transform their course material from ordinary lectures to flipped ones, with focus on group work and discussions. That’s why we start with single moments in courses now in the fall and flip them. We hope that it will eventually spread across institutional boundaries at the School. Then, we will of course evaluate and see what the students thinks. In traditional teaching, the teacher holds the lecture and everyone else listens and keeps quiet, for the most part. But now everyone will have to talk and a big challenge for me as a teacher will be to create well-functioning groups.”

Nadja about ... Inspiration
”It is not new for me to teach in line with the flipped classroom pedagogy. I’ve been working according to these principles for quite some time now. I have thought a lot about how learning processes can be stimulated and enhanced. Since I started teaching at LUSEM I have continuously tried out new things in my courses, which gradually has lead me to what we now talk about as the flipped classroom pedagogy.

I’ve got bits and pieces of inspiration from a number of different sources. Some from my colleagues, but also from educators outside Lund University. Lately I have also read and seen short movies specifically about the flipped classroom pedagogy. My students have given me a lot of inspiration and ideas too. I have developed a number of different ways to get input from them, both to get insights into what motivates them and to keep track of what they find most difficult. I also get suggestions and ideas from students spontaneously.

Last but not least, I’ve had the possibility to develop and practice novel and challenging seminar exercises through my engagement in executive education at EFL. At first, I thought that highly interactive seminars primarily were suitable for participants with a lot of working experience, or for students in their final year, but I have gradually implemented and realized how well it can work on other levels too.”

Matts about ... Learning from each other
“A year ago we had a workshop that several employees participated in. We’ve also visited the Faculty of Medicine and looked at how they work. Then, we applied for and was granted resources to develop our educators here at LUSEM and now the school has gotten new classrooms for flipped education. We will continue working on further course development. I know that many colleagues are interested in learning about how to work with flipped classrooms.”

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

The flipped classroom – step by step (example)

1. Preparation phase – Based on defined material, the students, usually individually, prepare themselves, for example by reading and watching movies.
2. The student often does some kind of quiz to test his or her knowledge and understanding, before meeting with the teacher.
3. Meeting with the teacher – Based on student preparation and knowledge, teaching time is used to discuss and clarify what the students find difficult.

Read more at the Faculty of Medicine (in Swedish)

Want to know more?

Contact Ola Mattisson. He is responsible for the on-going project at Lund University School of Economics and Management. You can also talk to Nadja Sörgärde, Matts Kärreman or Stein Kleppestø. Stein is the Director of Master’s programme in Management.

Contact information for the Department of Business Administration

STRATEGY SEMINAR

The LUSEM Staff is welcome to a strategy seminar about flipped classrooms on 22 November 2018, 13:15–15:00 at EC1:131.

Read more about the seminar