Steps to Flipping Your Class

Blackboard drawing, student with new material before class

The goal of flipping your class is to practice a more student-centered pedagogy, thereby engaging your students in active learning experiences. In the flipped model, instructors structure six active learning environments that guide and support students as they work through them individually and collaboratively. This is a process of reorganizing and redistributing content-related activities over sequences and cycles of in-class and out-of-class instructional practices and student experiences. In the context, appropriate uses of media and technology can play a valuable role.
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chart of 5 steps to filpping a class, in the center "evaluate and assess"

Step 1: Define content scope, learning objectives, & instructional strategies

The success of your flipped class depends on the alignment of what you want your students to accomplish before, during, and after the class.

What is the scope of your topic?

Defining scope is important so that students will not have difficulty building a mental model and connecting content. The biggest challenge is to determine how much of your subject matter can be taught within the time frame (e.g.; semester). Your goal should be to take the galaxy, so to speak, that makes up the breadth of your content and select the only most essential and relevant “constellations” of sub-topics that will make up a lesson. Each lesson should build or connect to the next within the sequence of the learning experience. For your flipped class, you should select just one small “constellation” of sub-topics to focus the lesson. Think in terms of the amount of time needed to cover the material and time needed for the students to really learn it through application. Concept maps are useful exercises to help define scope as well as demarcate clusters of sub-topics that can be turned into digestible lessons.

How will students use or apply the material?

Define the learning objectives and outcomes that align with the activities students will do before, during, and after the class. It is not enough for students to just read, listen, watch, and take notes. They need to use it to really learn it. Consult The Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy for selecting higher order action verbs to help write your learning objectives. What do you want your students to know and be able to do? And how will you assess what they know or can do?

How will students meet the learning objectives?

Describe the task that will demonstrate that the learning objective has been met. Will students create a project, solve problems, analyze data, engage in a debate, or design a product to meet the desired learning objectives?

Which instructional approach that will fit best for the main learning activity?

Choose the evidence-based instructional approach will fit the main learning activity (i.e.: peer-instruction, team-based learning, case-based learning, process-oriented guided inquiry learning).

How will you contextualize the topic?

Set expectations by preparing an explanation of how the new instructional material fits into the overall existing course structure and explains its relevance to real world applications. Students, especially adult learners, want to know why they are doing something, how it fits into the overall learning objectives, and how it is used beyond the class. These explanations provide vital contextual information to students.


Step 2: Students gain familiarity with new material before class

What instructional materials and resources will you use for students to familiarize themselves with the content prior to class?

Plan and prepare the new instructional materials that students will engage with prior to class. Ask yourself: What is the best way to communicate and present the new instructional material (e.g., video, text, animation, simulation, online multimedia module, or other). Will my students be able to process this content in this format effectively?

Step 3: Activities that motivate students to prepare before class

What kinds of activities will motivate students and prepare them for class?

Refer to the learning objectives and tasks that you outlined in step 1. Ask yourself what incentive or motivation students will have to prepare for class and how you will know students have adequately prepared for the in-class activity. Here are some examples of ways to motivate students to do the pre-class work.

Ask students to:

  • respond to open-ended questions online about the instructional material before class
  • prepare questions about the instructional materials
  • prepare a presentation about the topic
  • attempt to solve some problems
  • research examples to bring to class that illustrate a principle

Step 4: In-class activities that provide students opportunities to deepen understanding

What kind of in-class activities will focus students on attaining higher-level cognitive abilities?

Refer to the learning objectives and tasks that you outlined in step 1. Plan, prepare, and develop in-class activities that focus on higher level cognitive activities. Will students be working individually in the classroom as you walk around and provide help, or in groups to solve the problems, or will you solve problems together as a group? The activity you choose will depend on the learning goals and objectives as some activities lend themselves best to certain types of content.

Create a brief introduction and explanation of this new process. Many students may not have any previous experience with a flipped classroom and/or active learning.

Also, explain how the new instructional material fits into the overall existing course structure.  

First 10 minutes

We recommend spending the first 10 minutes of your in-class time getting students in the right frame of mind:

  • the instructor reviews pre-class activities before class to identify common questions or gaps OR
  • the first 10 mins of class are spent on a question/answer session with students, influenced by the pre-class activity results OR
  • provide a quick three-question review quiz (based on the basic learning objectives) that can be graded or ungraded. This can serve to review and focus the students so that the information is fresh in their minds.
Active learning

The remaining class time can be spent engaging in what are commonly referred to as active learning strategies which can help students further process what they learned in the pre-class content. Here are just a few examples:

  • collaborate with peers [to solve problems]
    Watch Jin Montclare's TeachTalk on using social media in the classroom.
  • work on assignments
  • present student created content
  • discuss examples or case studies
  • debate a topic
  • share and exchange knowledge between peers


Step 5: Post-class activities that extend student learning

How will students continue the learning experience from the in-class activity to outside of class?

Refer to the learning objectives and tasks that you outlined in step 1. Plan, prepare and develop the continuation of the learning experience from the in-class activity to outside-of-class individual or collaborative practice. Determine what students should do after the in-class activity to continue learning or bridge to the next topic. We don’t learn something very effectively in one instance. Rather we learn through practicing in many ways over an extended period of time. Think about and plan how often students will need to practice or revise their thinking to really master the material and be successful. 

Step 6: Ongoing evaluation and assessment

Assessment (summative & formative assessment)

Plan for ongoing formative and summative ways to assess student understanding and mastery. Could students attain all the learning objectives? What does mastery or success look like?

Based on previous iterations of the course/lesson, did your students' learning improve as a result of the new model? Did you move the needle, so to speak, in terms of learning?


Now that you’ve flipped - did it work? How will you know? Plan for opportunities to evaluate by reflecting on the design of the class or course. Did you communicate the ideas effectively? Did you provide enough opportunities for students to practice? Was it challenging enough? Ask for feedback from students on what worked well and what didn’t - and update your practices accordingly.

Ensure that all six of these steps are closely aligned and that they support the learning goals and objectives. Have a colleague or instructional designer review your plan and give you feedback.