Monday with Ms. Marvel: the drawbacks to flipped learning


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column, Monday with Ms. Marvel, Wingspan’s Trisha Dasgupta reviews different political issues and relatable topics in everyday life.

Trisha Dasgupta, Editor-in-Chief

Education has never looked more different, and everyone is trying to keep up with all the changes this pandemic has brought to the school system. Teachers are navigating virtual learning, hybrid classes, and new technology platforms which are far from simple. 

One approach many teachers have taken to is “flipped learning” which is when students watch videos for each lesson for homework and do practice problems in class. If a student has questions about the lesson they wait until class to ask their teacher, and once everything is understood they can work on practice problems or assignments that apply the skill or lesson. 

There are many potential benefits to this. Students can work at their own pace, and teachers can focus on what kids don’t understand versus generalized overviews of lessons. 

However, as a virtual academy student who has had more flipped learning experiences in the last two months of school than in-class lectures, I’m asking for teachers to acknowledge the negative impacts flipped learning can have for students who have opted for virtual learning. 

I’ve talked to many of my fellow virtual academy students, and many of us have had very frustrating flipped classroom experiences. 

One of the biggest challenges that some of us have faced is flipped classrooms in our AP classes, mainly the science and math AP courses that are designed to be challenging and difficult for most students. Watching a YouTube tutorial on the material is not the same as being taught by your own teacher, and it’s hard to learn the coursework when we have to wait two days to be able to ask questions. 

Furthermore, having only flipped lessons creates a disconnect between students and teachers. In some of my classes where every period is flipped, I feel like I don’t know my teacher at all despite having had them for two months already. Creating a relationship with teachers is already difficult in the virtual setting, but especially when you don’t get to hear them give lectures or interact with them for more than twenty minutes of question and answer time. 

As a student, I feel more nervous about asking questions when I don’t know my teacher very well, and I know many of my peers feel the same. Personally, I have swallowed my shyness and asked questions regardless of that feeling, but that might be significantly harder for other students. The whole point of a flipped classroom becomes lost if students don’t feel comfortable enough to reach out and ask the questions they do have.

Also personally, I know that the virtual academy has been really hard for me emotionally. I can’t speak for other student’s social lives, but I haven’t seen any of my friends in months. I miss my teachers and my classmates and I even miss waking up at 7:30 to get ready for school. These days I sit at my desk from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and then I do homework at that same desk. I’ve had little social interaction and that really gets to be a lot after a while. Being in a lecture, even if it is over Zoom gives me a little bit of interaction and breaks up the monotony of the day. However with flipped classrooms, sometimes I have days where two or more of my class periods are all flipped which just feels like I’m doing hours of homework all day long.

As I mentioned before there are some benefits to flipped learning, and I’m not saying that I’ve only had bad experiences with it. Having some flipped lessons here and there can be helpful in saving class time for more questions and specific lectures, but having them for every single lesson has been tiring and can also be counterproductive. 

I know that teachers are doing everything they can to make this transition as seamless as possible, and I am very grateful for that. Educators have the incredibly difficult job of having to teach my generation in a completely new way, and I know I feel a lot better having some sort of normal schedule in my life after months of no structure.

Educators everywhere are trying out new ways to teach in these troubling times and I have had much more positive experiences than bad ones, however, the drawbacks of having fully flipped classrooms are very real and important to acknowledge.