Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Learning Outcomes in a Flipped Classroom: A Comparison of Civil Procedure II Test Scores Between Students in a Traditional Class & a Flipped Class

Learning Outcomes in a Flipped Classroom: A Comparison of Civil Procedure II Test Scores Between Students in a Traditional Class & a Flipped Class by Katharine Traylor Schaffzin.


By now, many legal educators have heard of a “flipped classroom,” even if they may not be familiar with its meaning. The odds are great that more and more law students have experienced a flipped classroom in high school, college, or even in law school, although they may be unfamiliar with the pedagogical term. After learning about how the flipped classroom is being adapted for the law school course, I became convinced that such an approach to teaching could benefit my students’ learning outcomes.

In January 2014, I decided to adapt my own Civil Procedure II materials to this new format. Unbeknownst to my students, I tracked the performance of this class to compare it to that of my Civil Procedure II class from the preceding year. Assigning the same readings from the same texts in both 2013 and 2014, I changed only the mode in which I delivered the material to my students. Information I had previously presented to my class in 2013 in the form of a lecture interspersed with Socratic dialogue I now provided to the 2014 class online in advance of class and indefinitely thereafter in the form of PowerPoint slides with my lecture interposed as voiceover. Although I had also assigned hypothetical problems to the class in 2013, it was not uncommon that we would not have time to discuss all of those assigned problems in class. Inside the classroom in 2014, however, the class worked through assigned problems and many more requiring students to apply the content read and viewed in advance of class to hypothetical situations. I administered final examinations in both April 2013 and 2014 that were fifty percent identical. The content of the course and half the examination were the same in 2013 and 2014. The only thing that had changed was how I delivered that content to students.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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I'm a real fan of the problem method, which I think works best when at least some of the problems are available to students in writing and prior to class, and when the problems are analyzed in class, whether initially in small groups or in plenary session with one student taking the lead. How to make room for regular analysis of problems? One way is the flipped classroom nicely described in this article, such as by conveying any necessary lecture prior to class in a narrated PPT or Zoom video. Another way: choose a casebook that conveys some of the law through hornbook-like text introducing a topic, and with notes after a main case, and that sacrifices some main cases to make room for a generous supply of factually rich exercises. After all, a hypothetical case is still a "case" for purposes of synthesizing with a main case, except that it requires fresh analysis, rather than gleaning and interpreting a court's analysis -- requires original application of newly learned principles to new facts.

Posted by: Charles Calleros | Dec 30, 2021 11:21:41 AM

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