Flipping Classroom Boosts Student Engagement

English Composition II is a required course for freshmen at Fayetteville State University and Dr. Aydé Enríquez-Loya wants to make sure her students finish the course with knowledge that will serve as a foundation for their academic and personal lives.

The course has an emphasis on argumentation and research and involves gathering, analyzing and documenting information from secondary sources.

Enríquez-Loya’s flipped classroom and focus on the Rhetorics of Social Justice are all designed to ensure that her students stay engaged, retain material, understand critical thinking and rhetorical concepts and can put them to use.  

As a participant in the Bronco Star program at Fayetteville State, Enríquez-Loya has access to resources about flipped classrooms and participates in a faculty learning community on the topic. The faculty are organized as a Facebook group titled FSU BroncoStar Engagement 2015-2016. “We wanted the way we engage with each other to mirror the way our students might engage,” she said.

“My students are able to control the pace of the class themselves,” Enríquez-Loya said. “They do reading and video lectures on their own time.”   She said she has used guided questions and taught them the Cornell note-taking method so they arrive at class with a notebook full of information that they can use to fully participate in that day’s activities.  “They feel like they are walking in with new knowledge,” she said, “they feel empowered. And they are ready to go.”  Students rarely arrive unprepared.

 In the classroom, students work on individual and group writing assignments based on their homework. They use their notebooks to demonstrate that they understand key concepts and can put them to use through prompted writing, in-class activities, and short quizzes at the end of class. Some students are strong writers, she said, while others need more help. “The flipped classroom allows me to better focus my time and their attention on what they need. It also allows me to maximize the use of classroom time together.”

Enríquez-Loya said she focuses her readings and assignments on social justice so students will have a stake in the content, not just write a paper on some random topic. Currently the students are reading and writing on food justice issues.

She also collects comment cards from each student at the end of each class so she can identify any areas of confusion and gauge the effectiveness of her instruction. 

Although turning her course into a flipped classroom involved a significant upfront investment of time, Enríquez-Loya said, now the structure has actually saved her time. “I have more time in the classroom to engage with students through different activities and to make sure they understand the material by putting what they are learning into practice,” she said. She is eager to compare retention statistics with her former classes but already feels like her efforts are yielding results.