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Flipping the STEM Classroom

The issue of lack of qualified STEM workers is, by now, well known. What are some of the innovations being employed to help correct this?

A physics professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, Bob Beichner, has completely changed up his classroom by "flipping" it. He felt that the plethora of videos and information on the internet made lecturing a moot exercise, so in his classroom, students are focused on practical, hands-on work and problems. He has gone so far as to test different sizes of tables, to determine the optimal size for work space and communication (the answer: 7' round). Students, working in teams, are further motivated by contracts within those teams by which they can remove less productive classmates (who then have to do all of their work by phone; apparently this has only happened a handful of times).

What has been the result? Beichner's students take the same exams as other physics classes and generally score a grade better than their peers. Failure rates among women and minority students are also dramatically diminished. The ability to interact with each other during class to resolve questions, rather than passively listening to a single instructor and taking notes, has reinforced concepts more strongly. The concept is also contributing to greater retention of students in STEM majors. In the last five years, more than 250 other colleges and universities, including MIT, have adopted flipped classroom models.

Read more about the flipped classroom: Could This be the Solution to America's STEM Graudate Deficit?

What do you think? Can this model be rolled out to high school and younger science classrooms?

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