Columbia College Chicago (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 5903-5906
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
This paper will describe and evaluate a flipped classroom approach developed for an architectural history course taught to design students. Many graduate history students benefit from the flexibility and interaction inherent in a seminar format, while undergraduate history students often do not have the opportunity to learn in this manner. Seminars comprised of eight or so students discussing topics that they have researched independently under the direction of the teacher serve as a mainstay of graduate education. Students in undergraduate programs learn history in a different manner, often in dark auditoriums in which they are lectured to for an hour two at a time. This passive teaching style encourages passive learning among students, and works against the aims of good history teaching.

By combining flipped teaching methods with classroom dynamics typical of a graduate seminar, I reinvigorated the undergraduate architectural history course I taught this past semester. The class was scheduled for a three-hour duration and convened once a week in a lecture hall. After the second week of class I restructured the course format. Instead of lecturing for three hours I lectured for an hour and fifteen minutes. After a fifteen-minute break the class reconvened. The second part of the morning was dedicated to what I called Flash Lectures. I presented five themes, usually derived from the lecture. Students selected one theme in which they were interested. The twenty-five students in the class divided themselves into five groups based on their common selection of themes. They were to use their laptops, tablets, and smart phones to research the theme they selected and prepare a Flash Lecture in ten minutes. They had five minutes to present each Flash Lecture. They documented their presentations in their notebook/sketchbooks with drawings and notes.

As the course progressed the students developed confidence in their ability to research their chosen topics. They developed a capacity to dialogue with one another about the topics as they prepared their presentations. Students seemed to listen more attentively to the traditional lecture portion of the class. Students ended the semester with an understanding of history as a dynamic process.

A risk inherent in this approach is that the students were restricted to a fifteen-minute time frame and initially limited their research to Wikipedia. But as the course progressed I was impressed with how quickly the students moved beyond the online encyclopedias, sometimes accessing primary sources within the ten minutes allocated for research. The Flash Lecture approach could never replace a format in which students engage in deep thoughtful analysis spanning years. But it does provide an introduction to the process of doing history actively rather than receiving history passively.