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The Flipped Classroom Model & Why It’s Important in Long-Term Success

The Flipped Classroom Model & Why It’s Important in Long-Term Success

by Patrick Bosworth

Are You Dooming your Employee Development to Failure?

The Flipped Classroom Model & Why it’s Important in Long-Term Success


More and more professional learning experts are switching to a “Flipped Classroom” teaching style which utilizes preliminary self-study before an actual training event takes place, and it’s no wonder why. Flipped classrooms allow for more efficient learning with better personalization and long-term application.

In a flipped classroom setting, students are given self-study materials that introduce a subject before any further learning takes place. The idea is that base information is effectively learned on one’s own, and provides a base upon which “expert information,” or information provided by an expert lecturer or facilitator, can be delivered.

Leading experts in the learning industry have recently transitioned to “flipped classroom” learning as a replacement from the traditional classroom scenario. In traditional learning, an expert introduces new information to participants in a classroom/lecture setting, then assigns post-class “homework” or supplemental material to extend learning.

Traditional teaching styles are less effective

The flipped classroom pivot came because traditional classrooms are not the most effective way to maximize information and learning.

In the traditional classroom scenario, experts are presenting information in an introductory stage of learning. While the introductory stage is an important part of the learning process, it isn’t the most effective use of the expert’s knowledge and experience.

Experts found that in most cases this introductory information could be learned solo by the participant, so that the classroom/lecture scenario could use the expert’s advanced knowledge to more effectively extend that information.

Why has the flipped classroom been deemed more effective than its traditional classroom scenario?

The goal in all learning, and especially in business- or organization-based learning is to maximize efficiency and long-term impact. For the investment in learning to be successful, we need to create an environment where the most information is learned, the application is most successful, and where retention is longest.

In order to achieve these goals, we need:

  1. Incremental learning. Researchers have found there is a finite amount of information someone can store in their short-term memory in a single setting (7 +/- 2). The more that information in short-term memory is repeated or used, the more likely it is to be retained long-term. People tend to more easily store material on subjects they already know something about. By allowing the participant to develop introductory knowledge on his or her own prior to the actual learning event, you create a base upon which the expert’s classroom/lecture lesson can more effectively build new concepts and information.
  2. Time to personalize. Long-term information retention is much more effective when the participant can apply new information to existing knowledge and experiences. When a participant is able to learn introductory information on his or her own, they are more likely to take a moment to pause and make a connection whereas in a classroom setting they may not have that luxury.
  3. Conversation & interaction. Lectures are statistically among the least effective ways to learn and retain information. By empowering individuals with pre-training self-learning, what would otherwise be a one-sided lecture can instead include group discussions, sharing anecdotes or connections, exploring thoughts and ideas, and expanding knowledge instead of introducing it.

Why is introductory information learned in a self-study setting instead of classroom setting more effective?

Introductory information doesn’t typically take an expert to explain; it can be effectively completed through self-study.

In the flipped classroom setting, since introductory information has already been learned, the expert is able to use the actual learning event to produce either a more discussion-oriented atmosphere or an environment in which he or she can use their expertise to expand upon more complex ideas.

In other words, learning is accelerated when participants come into the learning setting with a base of information.

How can you implement “Flipped Classroom” learning in your employee development program?

Read our latest article, Formula for an Effective “Flipped Classroom” Business Training and Development Program, for some key aspects to implement or look for in your organization’s training or development program.

Is Flipped Classroom learning the right fit for your organization? Talk to one of our Business Learning experts →

Patrick Bosworth Leadership ChoicePat Bosworth

Founder and CEO
Patrick effectively coaches leaders at all levels and across a number of industries with a pragmatic, consultative approach. Previously, he was vice president with Right Management and held other senior OD and development positions in manufacturing and the professional services Industries. He holds an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Lamar University.