A Proven Path to Deeper Learning

Higher Ed 19 / April 17, 2019

–Terra Graves–

In March, I gave you my answer to the “So what?” question I asked when looking at one of the research articles shared in Jon Bergmann’s Top 10. Here’s the link in case you missed it. The goal here is to provide K-12 teachers with a practical application for what new research has found. Otherwise, what is the point of research?

The Research

Hong Zhou in the Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research demonstrated that Flipped Learning helps students with “implicit knowledge.” This is powerful in that it shows Flipped Learning is not just about learning the facts and specific procedures, but also taking it to the deepest forms of knowledge. FYI: Implicit knowledge is “knowledge that isn’t written down, is procedural or part of the practice, and not dependent on an individual’s context. Often, it’s inarticulable—it cannot be explained.”

The Big Idea

We already know that components of Flipped Learning such as instructional videos, online conversations, and peer collaboration are proven to deliver explicit knowledge to students. We have seen the Bloom’s diamond graphic which emphasizes that the lower level Bloom’s tasks is best done in the individual space (online) and the higher level Bloom’s tasks should be done in the group space (classroom). This study shows that students can attain implicit knowledge through Flipped Learning as well. Implicit knowledge is knowledge that we gain from experience, not by being taught directly. However, the learning activities (whether in the individual or the group space) must be designed to incorporate knowledge construction intentionally. I believe this dimension of 21st-century learning equates to what Zhou calls knowledge innovation.

What Is Knowledge Construction?

Knowledge construction happens when students do more than reproduce what they have learned: they go beyond knowledge reproduction to generate ideas and understandings that are new to them. The skills of knowledge construction are often considered “critical thinking.” Activities that require knowledge construction ask students to interpret, analyze, synthesize, or evaluate information or ideas (again, the higher levels of Bloom’s).

  • Interpretation means drawing inferences beyond the literal meaning. For example, students might read a description of a historical period and infer why people who lived then behaved the way they did.  
  • Analysis means identifying the parts of a whole and their relationships to each other. For example, students might investigate local environmental factors to determine which ones are most likely to affect migrating birds.  
  • Synthesis means identifying the relationships between two or more ideas. For example, students might be required to compare and contrast perspectives from multiple sources.  
  • Evaluation means judging the quality, credibility, or importance of data, ideas, or events. For example, students might read different accounts of a historical event and determine which ones they find most credible.

The Action

Take a look at the types of tasks students are required to do in both the individual space and the group space. How often are students given opportunities for constructing knowledge? Experiential learning is more attainable in flipped classrooms because the time for active learning has been reclaimed through the practice. When teachers design the learning environment to allow for knowledge construction to occur, students can take control of their learning process and outcomes. So what might it take to prepare students for deeper learning in the group space?

The theme of this month’s issue of FLR is “small but meaningful steps” to begin or improve your Flipped Learning practice. Here a few small steps you can try:

  1. Identify what level(s) of Bloom’s questioning/tasks you are using in the individual space.
  2. Look to the next levels “up” and ask students one of each type of question as a challenge.
  3. Have students (in the group space) work in groups to confirm or deny the answers. Give bonus points to teams with correct attempted questions from the individual space.  (Ooh, see how I worked in some gamification elements, too?!)

As a reminder of the Global Elements of Effective Flipped Learning (GEEFL), this activity reinforces these elements:

To view the interactive GEEFL table, visit www.flglobal.org/elements-0/.  This is part of the FLGI Professional Development Roadmap, which all FL practitioners should regularly consult to validate or improve their existing practice or to establish a strong foundation for their new practice.  

The Resources

After reading this column, I hope that the “So what?” you might be feeling after reading research studies becomes a “Now what?” feeling, and that innovative research becomes a call to action. And when you hear that call to action, get ready to answer in the form of a question.  Higher-level Bloom’s, of course.

Terra Graves
Terra Graves
Terra has been an educator for over twenty years. She is the Project Coordinator/Administrator for the 21st Century Learning Department in Washoe County School District, NV. Prior to this position, she taught elementary and middle school, supported novice teachers as a full-time mentor, served as an Ed Tech Specialist, and a Program Specialist in the 21st Century Learning Department. Terra is Flipped Learning 3.0 Level-II Certified and a founding member of the FLGI International Faculty.

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