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Flipping the Business Classroom

This blog was contributed by Dr. Hande Karadağ. Dr. Karadağ teaches Management, Entrepreneurship and International Business courses at undergraduate level and Strategy and IB in Executive Education. Dr. Karadağ uses the flipped learning approach with all of these courses. On January 13th, 2017, Dr. Karadağ, along with five of her colleagues, was invited to present her experiences of flipped learning to faculty at Koç University; one of the leading, young innovative universities in Turkey. This blog summarizes Hande’s presentation.

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Suitability of the Flipped Approach for Business Classes

I believe that business classes are well suited to the Flipped learning approach for the following reasons. Pre-class videos on the subject enable students to grasp the basic business-related topics as “abstracts”. I have found this approach really helpful as, as we have all experienced, students are often more interested in watching videos than reading books or articles. It is also my experience over the years that their attention spans are shortening. I therefore wanted to tap into these student patterns in the design of my course. In addition, as the flipped approach means that students are fully prepared before coming to class, I find I have more time for students to get involved in in-depth case studies during class time.

 

Stages of Flipping a Business Class

In order to set up my classes following the flipped approach, I go through the following stages. First, I shoot a short video about the concept for that week. The students watch this at home, which means that when they come to the classroom, they are prepared to discuss the concept in class discussions. Once they have discussed the basics of the concept, I invite them to go over a case study about that concept, for instance “motivation in the workplace”, and get them to discuss that case in their groups. By taking this approach, and getting them to prepare before class, I find they really become engaged and enjoy talking about the main points of the case, which is only made possible because they are already familiar with the concept. At the end of their discussions, I invite them to share their conclusions in handwriting, through writing them up on the board, through making posters, or even writing up their conclusions on the windows. Knowing that they will present their conclusions to their peers and instructor really makes them work hard on understanding each case in detail, and making sure they know it well enough to present to others. As a follow up to their learning, I give them a post-class assignment, such as writing a personal opinion paper about a specific company or a movie scene; something that encapsulates their understanding of how the concept works in practice.

I have found these stages to be effective in getting the students to really get to grips with the central concepts. However, I reached this structure through trial and error over a number of semesters. There were a number of challenges that arose when I first started flipping my class, which needed to be addressed before I settled upon my current model.

 

Challenges and Solutions when Flipping Business Classes

One of the persistent issues with flipping a class is student preparation. Student preparation is a huge issue in flipped learning in order for students to be successful. If they do not watch the videos or read the papers that the instructor uploads in advance of class, then there becomes a divided classroom environment where students who came prepared are trying to interact with those that did not prepare. Thus the instructor’s main challenge here is how to find a way to get the students to watch the videos and sufficiently prepare before class. The solution that I have found works best is by using in-video quizzes or other methods that increase the students’ interest and hold them accountable for viewing. In my experience, this has reduced the number of unprepared students. If students are still coming to class unprepared, I have found the most effective method is to mix those students that prepared with those that did not. The students that are unprepared are then under social pressure from their more prepared classmates to actively participate in the discussion. Students do not like being in this situation and, from my experience, are more likely to prepare in future to avoid being put on the spot like this by their classmates.

A second important issue regards how the course is graded. Grading on a course should be in alignment with the nature and structure of the course; grades should represent the students’ learning as well as what is valued, such as collaborative working and critical thinking. Since in-class discussions and peer learning play an important role in active learning and the flipped methodology, I believe the in-class active participation of the student should have a higher weighting of grading, and the share of the written exams, if any, should be lowered. An even better approach would be for the instructor to come up with more innovative ideas in the form of individual and group projects, as these types of project-based assessment ask the students to show their learning in more authentic learning environments and which will provide them with more transferable knowledge and skills when they enter the workforce. For this reason, I prefer student assessment to be based on a combination of individual and collaborative projects as opposed to traditional written exams.

From my experience of flipping my courses over the past two years, despite some challenges, I believe flipping business courses can increase the level of interest of the students, as they better relate to the concepts through the use of multi-media tools and in-class discussions, and they are more able to shift to the role of “thinking like a manager” in this learning environment.

 

About the Author:

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After graduating from Marmara University Business Administration undergraduate program, Dr. Hande Karadag commenced her career as a corporate banking portfolio manager in Yapi Kredi (the affiliate of UniCredit Group), the third largest bank in Turkey with 15,000 employees. In the first 11 years of her banking career, she worked as the responsible officer for the financial and international trade activities of domestic and multi- national corporations, and in the last seven years of her banking career, she was appointed as the branch manager within the same financial institution.

While pursuing banking career, Dr. Karadag received her master’s degree on international trade. After this, she completed a PhD program on strategic management and started teaching an international banking and finance course for undergraduate and MBA classes in Yeditepe University as well as running “finance for non-financiers” training programs. During her PhD program, she was invited to Isenberg School of Business to study strategic management with Associate Professor Anurag Sharma in 2013. After finishing her PhD, she was invited by the University of Pennslyvania Wharton School Entrepreneurial Research Center to join the team of international visiting scholars mentored by one of the best professors in the entrepreneurship field, Professor Ian MacMillan. Returning to Turkey in 2015, Dr. Karadag started working at MEF University in İstanbul, as the chair of the Banking and Insurance School and director of the Lifelong Learning Center.

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