CSU classrooms are being “flipped” to improve learning, student-faculty interactions

Amanda Thompson

Room 105 in the Behavioral Sciences Building has been "flipped", or re-designed, to make a more interactive learning environment for students. (Photo credit: Cisco Mora)
Room 105 in the Behavioral Sciences Building has been “flipped”, or re-designed, to make a more interactive learning environment for students. (Photo credit: Cisco Mora)

Room 105 in the Behavioral Sciences Building at Colorado State University looks nothing like the typical lecture style classrooms students usually dread coming to class to. Instead, this classroom has been redone, or “flipped,” to create a more interactive learning environment.

According to Debora Colbert, the director of professional development at The Institute for Learning and Teaching, faculty and students at CSU have been conducting research to show whether the flipped classroom approach will increase students’ learning ability and increase the amount of knowledge they retain after each class session.

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“Research shows that students retain approximately 5 percent of what they are hearing in the lecture,” Colbert said. “The flipped classroom takes a student-centered approach to learning. Through the successful implementation of active learning techniques, students become engaged in the content and are challenged to critically assess, synthesize and apply the course content.”

According to Colbert, the initial charge at CSU was led by Stephanie Clemons, who has taught in the flipped classroom in Aylesworth and has seen improvements within the learning outcomes.

“In a flipped class, there would be less lecture during the class period time and more experiential activities,” Colbert said. “This means more frequent student-faculty interactions. Benefits to students include increased opportunities for collaborative learning that enhances retention, increased opportunity for students to process the information which leads to additional questions that can continue outside the classroom, and students have more control over their learning.”

The flipped classroom features colorful tables and chairs of different heights and shapes, whiteboards on almost every wall and various forms of technology such as projectors and several TVs. Most of the furniture includes wheels attached to the bottom.

“I think it’s really neat how you could move all the equipment because it’s really helpful for group work,” said Gabby Mallette, a human development and family studies senior at CSU. “I like this flipped classroom better because it’s more relaxed and I think I learn better when I’m not forced to sit in a certain spot in a certain way.”

Katie Fabian, a human development and family studies senior at CSU, said that she likes the classroom because it is more interactive.

“For me, I’m definitely more of a discussion learner,” said Fabian said. “I think this classroom is great … there’s more discussion and more of that back and forth interaction where students can learn from each other as well as from the professor.”

Teachers are also finding that the flipped classroom style benefits the way they teach and conduct classes.

“I teach a class that has to do a lot of presentations and the fact that the classroom is in a very dynamic and changeable format, is a very important aspect for the class,” said Aimee Walker, an assistant professor in the human development and family studies department at CSU.

In fall 2015, the Eddy building will have two flipped classrooms, and the Health and Exercise Science Building with have a large flipped classroom. According to Colbert, a proposal to remodel larger classrooms is underway.

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Collegian Reporter Amanda Thompson can be reached at news@collegian.com or @amanduhh3003.