Setting Expectations

When transitioning from lecture-based to flipped classes, the roles of teacher and student change significantly, and teachers cannot assume that (1) students are aware of this and (2) they are prepared for the extra responsibility and autonomy that their new role requires.  In addition, a recent study on active learning environments found a significant mismatch between students' perceived and actual learning, a finding which seems to support discussions of teaching methods with students and expectation-setting activities more generally (Deslauriers, Mccarty, Miller, Callaghan, & Kestin, 2019).  The following activities will help to set general expectations and prepare students for their new, more active roles.

Three Critical Conversations

In his article, Three Critical Conversations Started and Sustained by Flipped Learning, Talbert (2015) suggests using three common student complaints about flipped classrooms as the basis for conversations about teaching and learning. The complaints are

  • I wish you would just teach the class.
  • I learn best through listening to a lecture.
  • I shouldn't have to teach myself the subject.

These can potentially give rise to discussions about how people learn, the general nature of classes, and the roles of teacher and student. This activity could be used as (or if) these comments arise or to set course expectations on the first day of class.

Syllabus Statements

Course syllabi set student expectations for a course and thus should include some sort of statement of teaching methods, especially in courses where methods are likely to differ from that students are used to. 

This could take the form a short statement like this one from Teresa Lesiuk, Associate Professor of Music:

Instructional Methodology: A Flipped Lecture and Discussion. Students will prepare for class through assigned readings and videos. Class time will be used to discuss, analyse, and synthesize the assigned materials in an interactive learning environment. The interaction amongst students and professor will enhance critical and creative thinking skill in the subject matter.

Alternatively, Brookfield & Preskill (2005) include a more thorough "What You Need to Know About This Course" section in their syllabi. This serves as a sort of truth in advertising and includes statements like

I have framed this course on the following assumptions:

- That participating in discussion brings with it the following benefits: 

- It encourages attentive, respectful listening.

- It develops the capicity for the clear communication of ideas and meaning.

- That the chief regular activity will be a small group discussion of experiences and ideas.

 Regardless of the approach you take, you should try to address questions like these in your statement:

  • What is flipped learning?
  • Why flipped learning?
  • How will this course be different?
  • How will the teacher and students' roles be different?


Brookfield, S. D., & Preskill, S. (2005). Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms. Wiley.

Deslauriers, L., Mccarty, L. S., Miller, K., Callaghan, K., & Kestin, G. (2019). Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(39), 19251–19257. doi:

Talbert, R. (2015, March 2). Three Critical Conversations about Flipped Learning. Retrieved from