If you haven’t heard the term “flipped classroom,” it may not be what you’d guess.

In a flipped classroom, the traditional lecture model becomes reversed.  Instead of attending a lecture and taking notes in class, students watch a pre-recorded lecture online in advance and then spend their class time working with the information — perhaps by completing problem sets, participating in discussions or applying concepts.

But, does it work, how is it done and how can it be used most effectively?  A new book by Dr. Patricia Roehling of the Hope College psychology faculty, “Flipping the College Classroom: An Evidence-Based Guide” (Palgrave Macmillan), seeks to help educators learn how best to serve students through the approach.  The chapters cover topics such as student reaction to and the effectiveness of flipped learning; creating and implementing effective active-learning experiences; identifying and creating effective vodcasts; selecting software and hardware for creating and disseminating vodcasts; orienting students to flipped learning; and how to assess flipped learning’s effectiveness.

“I hope the book will be a guide for instructors to understand when and how to use flipped learning.  It will also help them to know which exercises will help them achieve which learning goals,” said Roehling, a professor of psychology.

In conducting research for “Flipping the College Classroom: An Evidence-Based Guide,” she reviewed studies of flipped learning by college instructors around the country and the world.  While she found that the flipped-classroom approach isn’t for every situation, she noted that it offers significant advantages.

“It gets students involved in active learning,” she said.  “Research has shown that active learning is more effective than the passive learning associated with lecture.”

“The flipped classroom also helps students learn more than just foundational knowledge, which is the focus of the lecture,” Roehling said.  “For example, through structured activity in the classroom, students can learn how to frame and express their opinions, practice higher-order thinking, or develop academic and professional sills.

Where the approach falls short, she said, is in courses that are particularly information-heavy.

“Some information is transmitted most effectively through lecture,” she said.  “This is particularly true in introductory-level courses in which there is a large amount of information that needs to be transmitted.  If the instructor spends much time on active learning, some material cannot be covered in class and students may miss important information.”

It can also be challenging, she said, for first-year students or students with less online experience to benefit from the teaching technique.

The Department of Psychology at Hope has been selectively using flipped learning in its introductory classes for about three years.  The use has been shaped by a study Roehling and her colleagues Lindsey Root Luna and John Shaughnessy conducted on flipped learning.  The instructors flip only a handful of course topics, focusing on those that are most amenable to active-learning activities.

“Our study helped us identify how to make our flipped classroom experiences more effective, and we continue to refine how we use them,” she said.

Even as her department continues to fine-tune its flipped-classroom model, Roehling is continuing her larger-scale exploration.  Drawing on the data she collected for the book, she is conducting a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of flipped learning.

Roehling has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1987. She also served, from 1997 to 1999, as the director of research at the Cornell University Employment and Family Careers Institute.

She is co-author of the award-winning book “The Career Mystique: Cracks in the American Dream,” and the author of numerous articles published in scholarly journals.  She completed her B.A. at the University of Michigan in 1980, and completed her M.A. and Ph.D. at Wayne State University in 1984 and 1986 respectively.