I’m still reading posts about flipping, and in the most recent post I read, a specific point of comparison in a chart that compares the lecture model with the flip model really resonated with me. This point of comparison is efficiency vs. effectiveness. As the director of a program that helps faculty incorporate more active and collaborative activities in their classes, I hear this concern voiced quite often. The concern usually sounds like this: “These activities take up too much class time, and I have so much content to cover.” It’s a fair concern, especially when one’s course is a prerequisite or part of a disciplinary series. Sometimes this comment is the faculty members’ way of saying, “No sell.” These folks are bound, either by preference or departmental necessity, by efficiency.
But sometimes the comment is followed up with a question: “How can I make my class more active and collaborative and still cover all of the required content?” These folks see the possibility in balancing efficiency and effectiveness; they recognize the necessity to cover “all the things” of their course while still providing a participatory and student-centered learning environment. They realize that something must be sent to the chopping block in order to create a more effective learning experience for their students. These folks are okay with sacrificing material that has very likely become a significant part of their identities as teachers and scholars. This sacrifice in the name of effective teaching is not always an easy one to make.
Efficiency vs. effectiveness concerns the ubiquitous tension of quantity vs. quality. This tension is recontextualized in the world of teaching as surface learning vs. deep learning. I think all educators would agree that deep learning is preferable, but is it always possible? A more provocative question might be: Should deep learning always be the goal?
Please share your thoughts on these questions or any other insights you have on balancing course efficiency with teaching effectiveness. I look forward to a lively conversation!