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When a Philosophy Problem Comes Along, You Can “Flip” It
06.05.13 |
Dr. Noel Hubler, professor of philosophy, wanted to make some changes to how he taught his Introduction to Philosophy course. “I wasn’t completely satisfied; I wanted to get the students to be more active in the course.”

Hubler explored several educational networks and also discussed his ideas with Dr. Jeff Robbins, chair of religion and philosophy. Robbins suggested that he look into making Philosophy 101 a “Flip” course. Also known as an inverted course, the goal of this course model is to perform the transfer of information outside the classroom and devote class time to problem solving and application. Hubler did some additional research, tried the new model for the first three weeks of an upper-level class this spring, than surveyed his students after returning to the traditional reading, lecture, and quiz model for the next few weeks.

The survey showed that the students overwhelmingly preferred the flip model, which enables the students to hear Hubler’s lecture before coming to class. In response, Hubler decided to submit a proposal for a grant from the College’s inaugural President’s Innovation Fund. He plans to involve two students with design and computer science expertise to help improve his current system of creating multimedia content. He is also researching software that will make it easier to link multimedia files with the PowerPoint presentations used for each session.

Impacts of WWII on American Society, The Great Depression and New Deal, and The Cold War are three of the podcasts he created for the upper-level philosophy classed used as the sample.

“An inverted classroom also seeks to make students more active in the learning process by giving them control over the timing and pace of the lecture material,” noted Hubler. “Interactive materials and projects can also be linked to the online lectures.” This control over timing was the primary reason Hubler’s students preferred the inverted model according to the mid-term survey.

While this model of learning has been around secondary education and certain segments of higher education for quite some time, primarily in the sciences, Hubler is confident it will find a successful home in the humanities as well. “Instead of hoping that the students gain a basic understanding of a concept from the readings before hearing the lecture, this model allows them to hear my lecture first, which in turn should lead to a better understanding of the written material. It has clearly improved classroom discussion, understanding, and problem solving.”

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