Constructivist education, for those who don’t already know, is when a learner actively participates in creating their own knowledge. There are myriad hierarchies that rank the effectiveness of the different ways we can learn, but an old favorite of mine goes something like this..
We learn some of what we hear
We learn a bit more of what we read
We learn more still from what we discuss
We learn the most from what we do
For those of you who know the more popular version that places percentages on each of those modalities, please forgive me. I am averse to using statistics when I know not their origin.
The flipped classroom movement, as described by the teachers that started it in this blog series, sounds like a sensible attempt at constructivist education. Teacher makes video lectures available for homework (in lieu of book reading – or perhaps in tandem with book reading), then class time is spent in small group instruction with problems and tasks designed to go deeper into the subject.
I like it. This is not unlike Eric Mazur’s Peer Instruction that I have adapted for use in my own classroom. It is also similar to a technique they use in freshman science courses at MIT that they call TEAL (technology enhanced active learning).
I would be curious to see how students in the flipped classrooms are doing on science concept inventories. It looks like a good candidate for strong gain scores.