Fire instruction: How to make what you teach stick

By turning students into instructors, they will retain far more information than in a lecture setting

Flipping the classroom is gaining more momentum in the education world. Whether it is an elementary class or a continuing education class, flipping the classroom can prove to be advantageous in the learning process for participants to retain the information.

Among educators and instructors, it is a well-known fact that the learner's retention is about 5 percent in a classroom when the teacher uses lecture as the methodology. Even when you have an intensive discussion in the classroom, the retention of material is 50 percent. Yet, when students teach others, they have 90 percent retention of the material.

Flipping the classroom has gained popularity among many educators. In the elementary and secondary school system, educators assign the work to the students that was typically done in the classroom as homework. The students read the material, watch the videos, which include the instructions by the teacher and do those traditional concepts of a classroom lecture at home.

When the student is in the classroom, they do their homework while the teacher works with students on those problems or areas they are weak or have questions about. 

Test case
Realizing the benefits of flipping the classroom, I implemented the methodology in my fall college session for Paramedic I students. Since it is a college class, the format was a slightly different.

The class self-selected into four groups. The assignment was to outline the chapter, and then present the portion of that chapter to their group. The presentations were to be creative and PowerPoint was discouraged. They also had between 15 and 30 minutes in the classroom to work on their assignments, to avoid the issue of not having the ability to meet outside the classroom.

Initially, the students revolted and were apprehensive about taking an active role in the class. There were comments like, "you are the teacher, teach us," "tell us what we need to know!" and many similar comments of rejection and quite frankly fear of having to do additional work.

Getting results
As the session progressed, the comments decreased and the quality of presentations among many of the groups increased. After the final testing of the group of students, the results were the highest scores seen in this part of the program. Not everyone was successful, due to a number of reasons, but overall the students excelled in the class.

How does this relate to rehab training? It is similar to any subject you may elect. If the learners become involved in the delivery process of the course, their retention will increase. Flipping the classroom forces the learner into the books and materials for the course in order to teach the material. It allows the opportunity to interact with their peers.

At the end of the day, my experience and the experience from others is that the methodology works. The learner walks away with a higher retention of the material.

The instructor's role
If you flip the classroom, why do you need an instructor? You are really the facilitator and the subject-matter expert for the class. It is the instructor's responsibility to ensure that the objectives and material are covered in class. The instructor also needs to make sure the information being presented conforms to department policy.

Flipping the classroom can be challenging; however, once you get through the initial phase with the department or class, the atmosphere should improve and the participants more ready to accept the new method of an active classroom.

Encourage the participants to be creative and not use the traditional classroom methodology of a teacher standing in front of the class talking the entire time.

Here are some other creative thoughts to flip the classroom. Have participants get in groups and work together to create a presentation by making games like Jeopardy, BINGO, or Hangman; creating a video; demonstrating a skill; and getting others involved.

There are a variety of ways to educate participants. The traditional methodology of a talking head and even a classroom discussion, has not proven to be a learning environment where participants retain what they have heard. Emergency personnel are mostly Type A personality, who need involvement and activity in the classroom in order to learn best.

Education takes many forms, do not think outside of the box rather have the participants create the box.

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