Category Archives: 2. Featured Articles

Is Flipped Learning Flopping?

Since its introduction in the mid-2000s, flipped learning has been a hot topic for educators. Originally designed by high school chemistry teachers to provide students who had not attended class with a video covering missed material, the practice has become prevalent in higher learning but is primarily used in college classrooms.

The flipped classroom changes the traditional two-phase model of teaching which involves students who listen to a lecture in class and perform activities to reinforce concepts at home. In the flipped classroom, students learn basic content before attending class. In-class time focuses on clarifying the concepts and practicing problem-solving.

Proponents of the flipped classroom argue that the strategy encourages active learning, which provides deeper learning and engagement by using discussions, student presentations, group work, labs, and other problem-solving opportunities.

However, a recent meta-analysis of the flipped classroom concluded that “current levels of enthusiasm for flipped learning are not commensurate … with scientific evidence in its favor” (Kapur et al., 2022). The researchers found that data to support the belief that the flipped classroom results in better academic outcomes is weak due to the wide variation in the way professors implement the approach. As an example, they note that some professors both assign videos prior to class and then lecture the same material, thus perpetuating passive learning—the exact thing the flipped classroom is designed to reduce.

The researchers examined 173 flipped classroom studies in addition to 46 previous meta-analyses and arrived at the surprising conclusion that flipped learning resulted in more passive learning than the traditional teaching model.  The main reason, says one of the study’s authors, is that many instructors do not test to confirm that students are actually learning the material in the videos they are supposed to view prior to class. This leads them to be unprepared for the active learning exercises performed in class. Naturally, learning suffers.

Nevertheless, the authors agree that the concept of flipped learning has merit and propose an alternate model they call Fail, Flip, Fix, and Feed, that allows students to begin the learning process by engaging in solving novel problems prior to any instruction. The details of this alternative method follow.

Fail: The instructor provides an opportunity for students to problem solve a concept prior to any instruction, a strategy that is based on one of the study’s findings that productive failure boosts learning. (In the business communication classroom, this might mean asking students to compose a bad-news e-mail before learning the strategies that will result in a purposeful correspondence.)

Flip: Students view online lectures on the topic outside of class.

Fix: The concept is discussed in a traditional class session, during which students’ misconceptions are cleared up. This strategy is based on the of the study’s findings that flipped learning works best when it includes an in-class discussion.

Feed: The instructor provides feedback on student work with directions on what to do next.

As instructors, we are always excited about improving our students’ learning outcomes, and sometimes that means we must honestly appraise the efficacy of our own pedagogy. The research does not lie: The traditional flipped classroom model is ready for an update.

Kapur, M., Hattie, J., Grossman, I., & Sinha, T. (2022, September 26). Fail, flip, fix, and feed—Rethinking flipped learning: A review of meta-analyses and a subsequent meta-analysis. Frontiers in Education, 7.

Young, J. (2023, February 16). Does “flipped learning” work? A new analysis dives into the research. EdSurge Newsletter.

Writing Assignments and Generative AI—An Awkward Alliance?

Who among us has not worried about the impact generative AI will have on our writing assignments? After all, students can prompt a chatbot and copy the prose GPT-4 or Bard generate in seconds, leaving us without a surefire way to discern if an assignment is an authentic reflection of the student’s performance. Worse yet, fears run rampant that students can now hand off critical thinking and analysis to a robot. How could we, mere mortal instructors, possibly confront this challenge? Add to this that robust discussions of generative AI policies are not yet happening on all campuses, and approaches to AI bots vary greatly.

Take heart. At the beginning of the generative AI invasion, some may have been fooled into thinking that AI would take over actual instruction. However, anyone who has used ChatGPT quickly learns that its prose is lackluster at best, makes up incorrect “facts,” and includes no citable sources or references it provides when prompted are fictitious. For the time being, students still need instructors to guide them.

Some instructors may have already taken measures to ensure that students turn in their own work. The following strategies may prove useful when designing this term’s writing assignments to thwart student overuse of AI.

Understand AI. It behooves all writing instructors to familiarize themselves with AI’s capabilities and limitations, and the best way to do that is to use it. Learn its weaknesses and strengths and adjust assignment parameters to reflect what you’ve concluded. Begin with this helpful piece from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Assign in-class writing. This strategy may work in some settings, but we all know that the writing process demands editing. Nevertheless, these first drafts can be used to compare to more polished drafts the students turn in. Experienced instructors can usually assess whether a student’s improvement is genuine.

Use specificity in writing assignments. The more specific a prompt, the less likely AI bots can produce a realistic finished product. Ask students to link to a classroom discussion, guest speaker, or presentations AI has no knowledge of. Requiring specific and unique points within an assignment will discourage cheating.

Ask students to tailor their writing to specific audiences. A business document may be targeted to a superior, a peer, or an outside audience entirely (CIOs, vendors, etc.) AI will be thwarted if it has to appeal to the unique needs of a specific groups of readers it doesn’t “know.”

In addition to narrowly tailoring assignments, business communication instructors will need to address how generative AI is already being used in the workplace, for example, for creating promotional copy.  Tips for coexisting with AI follow:

Discuss AI classroom policies with students. Bring students into the discussion about setting course policies surrounding the use of AI. Talk about the ethical and responsible use of the tools.

Remind students of plagiarism policies. Discuss academic integrity with students and frame AI as a tool, not a substitute, for the hard work of creating readable prose.

Perform rhetorical analyses of AI generated texts. It’s important for students to understand AI’s plusses and minuses. As a class, discuss the rhetorical conventions in a piece of AI generated prose. Then in small groups have students deconstruct a piece. Provide guided questions that probe students to think deeply about why a text works or does not. Discuss the pros and cons of the AI version as a class.

Ask students to edit AI texts. Just as a peer-editing session helps authors see how others view their prose, conducting a peer edit on AI prose will help students see how that work could be improved. This activity provides an opportunity to remind students of the tenets underlying all business communication: conciseness, correctness, and awareness of audience and purpose.

Encourage students to use AI to begin the writing process. It is always easier to begin writing when the page is not blank. Students can use AI to get started on a project but not rely on it beyond obtaining some basic thoughts on the topic.

Writing instructors have always known that some students cheat, whether they cut and paste from actual sources or pay someone else to do their work. Sometimes we catch them; sometimes we don’t. Policing takes energy away from actual teaching, and in the end, we know it is the cheater who has squandered an opportunity for real learning.


Darby, F. (2023, June 27). 4 steps to help you plan for ChatGPT in your classroom. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Prochaska, E. (2023, January 23). Embrace the bot: Designing writing assignments in the face of AI. Faculty Focus.

Is ‘Ungrading’ for You?


Articles and social media are buzzing about a trend called ”ungrading,“ a practice in which feedback and reflection replace assigning points or letter grades to student work.

In the ungrading classroom, written and/or oral feedback is tied to a course’s learning objectives and focuses on what could be improved moving forward. Additionally, ungrading calls upon students to self-evaluate, making them responsible for understanding the material and understanding that they understand, i.e. adding metacognition to the pedagogy.

While instructor workload and systemic administrative procedures such as assigning grades at the end of a course provide valid reasons against ungrading, adherents of the learning strategy believe the practice is more student-centered. One professor who hasn’t graded in 20 years goes so far as to say that grades “frustrate intrinsic motivation” and continues to use ungrading as a way to encourage deeper learning.

Of course, most adopters of the ungrading philosophy must assign final marks, and these instructors have come up with a variety of methods to do so. One way is the self-evaluation, which hinges on the belief that students are the best monitors of their own learning. Therefore, requiring them to write about their work and comment on their own progress is a more valid measure of true learning. In this scenario, some instructors have students justify their own grades with the proviso that the instructor may change those grades.

Other evaluative protocols include the portfolio assessment, which uses an entire semester’s work to appraise the trajectory of a student’s learning. This method has the benefit of acknowledging that students begin the course with differing knowledge and skill levels. Another way to assign grades using is specification grading. This modality uses a binary approach to grade assignments—pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory. However, at the beginning of the semester students choose which letter grade they want at the end of the term. To earn the chosen mark, students complete bundled assignments that increase in number and difficulty the higher the desired grade. All assignments contain grading specifications the work must meet. Instructors do not assign points when grading but do provide feedback explaining why or why not the work was acceptable. Instructors who opt for this type of assessment say students take ownership of the grading process, which provides buy-in and motivation.

Undoubtedly, writing instructors would have to believe strongly in the merits of ungrading to adopt such a novel approach. Below are some of its pros and cons.


  • Ungrading shifts the focus to the what and why of learning instead of focusing on grades.
  • Research suggests that ungrading reduces students’ stress and promotes good learning habits.
  • Work performance evaluations, which look toward improvements in the future, are more akin to ungrading, especially in business.


  • All students may not possess the ability to accurately self-evaluate.
  • Learners from less privileged backgrounds may not benefit from the removal of traditional grading guideposts.
  • Students are left on their own to figure out how their work could be improved or why when a simple “meets objectives” evaluation is assigned rather than a letter grade.
  • Writing instructors already provide copious commentary on assignments, and adding more to an already substantial grading burden could cause burnout.

We all know the current grading system is fraught with problems. Whether ungrading is the answer is up to the individual to decide.


Kenyon, A. (2022, September 21). What is ungrading? Duke Learning Innovation. Retrieved from

Stommel, J. (2020, February 6.) Ungrading: an FAQ. Retrieved from

Talbert, R. (2022, April 27.) What I’ve learned from ungrading. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from