Flipping Very Large Classrooms: Embracing the Controlled Chaos

Amanda Brindley Holton Department of Chemistry - University of California, Irvine


When first implementing flipped instruction, I ravenously read every resource I could find. I excitedly wandered into the each conference talk with “large” and “flipped” in the title, only to be disappointed to see that they were discussing classrooms of 50 – my classrooms are generally 350-400 students! Not to be discouraged, with quickly advancing technology, and pioneers in the field working with publishers to improve it further, I thought, “it can’t be all that different.” Regardless of scale, similar challenges exist and technology can be used to minimize repetitive tasks to keep the workload to a manageable level. Here I suggest a few simple, easily implemented strategies for coping with common challenges that are faced when flipping a very large lecture class.


Student Accountability

Regardless of size, for effective flipped instruction, students must consistently complete the pre-work. There is an incredible amount of resources available for externally motivating students with low stakes points, while simultaneously administering formative assessments. Consistency is the key. Having a short, predictable assignment each day ensures that pre-class work becomes a habit. I personally choose to use a commercial homework system with assignments on each topic that can be answered using either the book or videos.  Other resources exist for ensuring students watch videos (or at the very least that the videos have played on their computer for a specified amount of time). If you chose not to grade these assignments, Zaption is a great tool for keeping students engaged with the videos.


Accommodating Student Differences