Flipping the classroom: more job satisfaction, higher success rate and better quality teaching

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Alexander Santos Lima

"I haven't enjoyed teaching as much in 20 years as I do now," says Dr Peter Marks. Together with Dr Pieter Tuytens, they have upended their course of economics within the bachelor of Public Administration. How? With 50 knowledge clips, quizzes and games during lectures.

Knowledge clips and quiz to shape lectures

Teachers have flipped their course (official term: flipping the classroom). No more lectures where teachers just tell and transmit. Lessons are now tailored to students' needs.

"We recorded a total of 50 short knowledge clips. Everything we used to tell in a lecture is now revealed in professional videos. The film studio on campus has helped perfectly," says Peter Marks, who studied economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam and went straight on as a lecturer and researcher in 2002.

Pieter Tuytens and Peter Marks
Peter Marks (l) & Pieter Tuytens (r)

"Students can absorb the material at their own pace prior to the lecture: knowledge clips, slides, additional texts, links to relevant articles and other visual material. It is a total online learning environment. Each week concludes with a short knowledge quiz," says Pieter Tuytens, who has a background in political economy and has been teaching the course for three years now.

By noon on Monday, students had to have made the knowledge quiz. The lecturers could tell from the results at which point most students got stuck. And they adjusted their lectures accordingly.

"I asked students to draw out supply and demand for their own jeans"

Peter Marks


Learning to apply theory through games

Apply! That is central to teachers. They want students to be able to apply the knowledge they have learned. To achieve that, they added a game element in each lecture. Peter: "During the second lecture, I wanted to explain the concept of 'market'. I asked students to draw out supply and demand for their own jeans. With the main question: what is the equilibrium price? Students came up with very different answers. From 7 euros to 80 euros. My question to the room of 200 students was: how is that possible?"

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A portable microphone went around the room. Students tried to answer the question or asked questions. "Students are then engaged with the material. They apply the theory from the knowledge clips to an issue during the lecture. That's when you learn it properly. The lecture is now meant to fill the gaps in students' knowledge. It is no longer that as a lecturer I just tell what I want to tell," Peter said.

Debating with other students

Pieter had the students engage in a college debate. It was about this case study: it is often difficult for ex-cancer patients who have been cured to get insurance. Should there be regulations for this? "I divided the room into three: the role of insurance company, role of cancer league and role of policy maker in government. The different groups made up arguments and engaged in debate. To do so, they used all the theory and concepts they had learnt in the clips. That was again applying the theory."

Help from Community for Learning & Innovation (CLI)
CLI is the place within our university focused on educational innovation. Anything to make our education future-proof. Pieter and Peter received a CLI Fellowship. "Besides all the help in transforming our profession, we got financial help. Our department got money so that we could be released for 0.1 FTE per person to adapt this course," Peter said.

Peter Marks is in de studio during a knowledge clip.

Knowledge clip by Peter Marks on 'Marginal Thinking'

Three big pluses through new way of teaching

Teachers are very enthusiastic about the new version of their economics course. Three aspects stand out:

  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Improved teaching quality
  • Higher grades

More enjoyable lessons and enthusiastic students

Peter says it is much more fun to teach the lessons now. "You first see frustration from students who don't get it. But through the game element, they start to understand. You see the light appear in their eyes. After all, that's what you do it for. Earlier, we had much less control over that."

The students themselves were also enthusiastic. After the course, the teachers received positive feedback. "There are always 10 students who don't like an interactive lecture. But 95% of the students were enthusiastic. Students even indicated that they would like every course to be structured our way," Pieter says.

"Normally we are at 60% pass rate. Now it was 75%. Fantastic!"

Pieter Tuytens


Higher grades

This economics course is not the easiest for many students. And then this year's exam was more difficult than other years. Nevertheless, the pass rate went up. Pieter: "Normally we are at 60%. And now around 75%. That feels good. The hard work is paying off."

EUC lecturer gives lecture/teaching

Advice to other teachers: tackle your course!

This project was a collaboration between several parties. CLI brought these parties together and helped shape the profession. Our own studio on campus provided the animations and knowledge clips. EDIS helped with the (anonymised) data and accessibility of the course. "It was great to work with so many enthusiastic and professional colleagues. Our profession is now ready for the future. It stands for the years to come," Peter said.

It was a lot of work. Nevertheless, Pieter and Peter recommend other teachers to take up the challenge. Peter: "A different way of teaching is needed to improve the quality of education. And to connect with students. It's an investment, but it pays off. I haven't enjoyed my profession as much in 20 years as I do now."

Peter Tuytens explaining something during a knowledge clip.

Knowledge clip by Pieter Tuytens about 'Social Indifference Curve and Fairness'

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More information

As a teacher, do you also want to future-proof your profession? Contact CLI or check out the website.

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CLI Fellows Pieter Tuytens & Peter Marks research the flipped classroom design and differentiated instruction for a large number of students.
Pieter Tuytens and Peter Marks

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