Why Feedback Needs To Be Integrated Into Flipped Classrooms

FlippedFlipped classrooms are getting plenty of headlines and attention lately in educational circles. While conceptually they sound great the reality is that they require a great deal more effort on behalf of both students and teachers. The need for teachers to develop quality material outside class time is a genuine drain on their limited time and becomes a significant obstacle to the uptake of flipping.

In a seemingly unrelated topic research is making an ever stronger case that effective feedback in a clear and timely manner has a significant influence of the achievement of student outcomes. This is especially the case for students facing high stakes examinations toward the end of their school experience. Summative evaluation through examinations is far from a new idea nor is returning papers and suggested answers. However, the merging of flipped classrooms and examination feedback may shed new insights and opportunities.

The following footage comes from a recent feedback session to 17 year old boys regarding their examination. The footage was taken from a notebook computer’s webcam and was simply recording in the background as the machine was used to project the feedback presentation. This clip is obviously a segment of a larger lesson.

The final product is as simple as a powerpoint and as complicated as an on demand, repeatable differentiated feedback package. Through embedding the footage in the powerpoint a simple slide packages becomes a great deal more informative. This feedback style takes a basic assessment task which was designed as assessment of learning and leverages more out of it.


Before continuing it is important to clarify my understanding of assessment terms.

  • Assessment of learning: Summative evaluation with a purpose of measuring student achievement in concrete terms.
  • Assessment for learning: Formative evaluation which encourages students to master new content through the completion of the task.
  • Assessment as learning: Formative evaluation focusing on students being reflective learners either independently or with peers. Self assessment is central.

Assessment of learning becomes assessment for learning when students are asked to critically reflect on their responses and by using the feedback re-attempt each question where they failed to gain full marks. In this way the old task is refreshed to help drive the learning. The use and revision of the video feedback becomes an invaluable tool in this activity.

Assessment of learning also changes to become assessment as learning due to the deep reflection that is enabled. If assessment as learning focuses on reflection both personally and with peers the use of video feedback provides the tools to drive the student centered discourse. In the case of this class, students were paired with a partner from the opposite end of the mark range. Each pairing were asked to use their examination papers, written and video feedback to develop the most complete answers possible. Pairings reflected on their own original responses in the light of their partners and through collaboration developed a new, shared understanding of the requirements of the original task.

This simple use of video has clear advantages;

  • Formal examinations achieve a great deal more than generating a mark and grade for reporting purposes.
  • In class time used to present the feedback in the first instance multiplies its value many times over.
  • Students who require differentiated support can view and review what was discussed in class in a time and space that is non-judgmental with teachers aids, parents or peers.
  • Depending on follow up activities the initial assessment of learning can be broadened and deepened to enable assessment for and as learning to take place.
  • The time and effort invested by teachers in marking and creating feedback does not get reduced to a pass / fail or grade which inevitably festers in the bottom of the school bag or the bin shortly after leaving the room.
  • The researched advantages of flipped classrooms become accessible without the significant investment of beyond school day time required to develop them.

In a time when we ask more and more of our teachers this methodology enables the development of powerful learning resources in an efficient manner. It multiplies the value of each minute of class time and provides support to those students who are either absent or simply need to review concepts to internalize them. While it is not a technique to apply every lesson its value in compounding learning opportunities and learning styles is clear.


  1. Benjamin

    April 7, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Is recording a class and making it available publicly online flipping the classroom for those students who attended the class? Is recording a class and making it available publicly online affording teachers to assess for and as learning? I don’t see the connection between this example of teaching to the test, or test preparation, and formative assessment that helps prepare students for content covered on standardized test items. There is a difference between teaching to the test (which is what I see in the video) and various forms of alternative forms of assessment that help students gain the knowledge and skill sets good standardized tests seek to measure.

  2. David Matheson

    April 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Hi Ben,

    This example is actually a feedback session post test and so is teaching about the test rather than teaching to the test. The feedback is recorded and then used as a flipped lesson in a following period. In that flipped lesson students are asked to view the video content to help them develop a response that would earn full marks for each question in the paper. The aim of the flipped lesson is two fold. Firstly students develop skills in exam response writing based on the feedback. Secondly students revise content that was previously examined and presumably may appear in examinations at the end of the course, possibly high stakes external tests.

    Having said that I do agree that in some ways this does not meet the true definition of flipped lessons given that students will have heard the content presented live previously. However, it is my sense that hearing a message once is probably not enough, certainly in boys education repetition is a useful tool.