Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Register
TL v64n3: Shifting the Instructional Paradigm
Share |

Shifting the Instructional Paradigm: Articulating a Set of Current Practices in Flipped Library Instruction


Seth Allen



The flipped classroom has gained popularity in recent years due to shifts in pedagogical assumptions about learners and technological innovations that allow instructors to move traditional lecture content outside of the classroom. Aaron Bergman and Jonathan Sams popularized this method, which allows instructors to spend class time for more hands-on activities and personalized instruction. Many instructional librarians have adopted elements of flipped instruction and are increasingly using flipped instruction outright to improve student learning. This study ascertains how well acquainted instructional librarians are with this concept, to what extent they flip their content delivery, and what advice would they offer to other librarians interested in flipped instruction.


The phrase "flipped classroom" is generally attributed to two high school chemistry teachers in Woodland Park, Colorado. Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams decided to revamp their chemistry curriculum to accommodate students who either traveled to attend sporting events or could not keep up with the pace of their lectures. In the 2007-2008 school year, these two colleagues partnered to record lectures and post them on YouTube. By having students watch the lectures before class, Bergmann and Sams freed up class time for hands-on, collaborative learning activities. This dramatically improved students’ long-term retention of knowledge, motivation, and course completion rates. While neither author claims to have coined the term "flipped classroom," nor do they conceive it as a distinctive pedagogy; these teachers have worked to promote flipped learning as an alternative to traditional, lecture-based classrooms (2012, p. 6). Since the publication of Bergmann and Sams' book Flip Your Classroom in 2012, several entrepreneurial librarians have embraced the use of this term, though many librarians have been flipping instruction for quite some time.

It is still difficult to predict whether flipped library instruction is a temporary fad or paradigm shift in how educators deliver information. The ubiquity of free technological tools has set the stage for interesting innovations in education. At the same time, accrediting agencies and school administrators are looking for creative ways to improve student learning and revamp outdated teaching methods.

At present, much of the evidence pointing to the effectiveness of flipped library instruction is anecdotal. Librarians and other educators might reasonably question its efficacy and whether or not it constitutes a true innovation in teaching. Given the ambiguity of the term "flipped classroom" and lack of established procedure for flipping library instruction, this article intends to document the prevalence of the flipped model in libraries and articulate how instructional librarians can adopt this method efficiently and effectively.

Literature Review

Introducing the Flipped Classroom Model

As previously mentioned, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams are generally attributed with making the flipped method popular. Some of the principles of flipped instruction have been circulated in educational literature for several decades. So what does the flipped classroom look like? Hamdan, et al. (2014) identified four pillars that are essential to the flipped classroom:

  1. Rearrange the classroom for more group activities and allow students discretion to decide what and when they will learn.
  2. Intentionally shift the role of instructor from an expert who has complete control of the classroom environment to a facilitator/guide who helps students to solve problems independently.
  3. Use "intentional content," or active learning strategies, to shift the focus to a learner-centered pedagogy.
  4. Concede the lecture-based classroom in favor of collaborative learning space, personalize instruction and facilitate interaction as much as possible, and work with other educators to hone the craft of flipped instruction. 

The flipped classroom has been adopted at nearly every level of education, from middle school to graduate and professional programs. There are many documented cases where flipping instruction improved nearly every positive educational indicator: student learning, attendance, compliance with teachers’ instructions, and educators’ satisfaction with their jobs (Arfstrom & Aaronson, 2013; Bayliss, 2013; Bergmann & Sams, 2012; “The Flipped Classroom,” 2014; Hersey & Belcher, 2013; Valenza, 2012). Lage, Platt, and Trelia (2000) theorized that "inverted instruction," an antecedent of the flipped classroom, was more effective than the traditional lecture as it engaged all learning types by using multiple teaching formats.

In spite of the touted benefits, this model has its critics. Among the common criticisms of the flipped model is that it still relies on ineffective lecturing and that it isolates ESL learners and students lacking computer access at home (Hadman, et al., 2014; Milman, 2012; Neilsen, 2012; Spring 2013). Millman (2012) notes that pre-recorded lectures offer no chance for "scaffolding" new concepts, or advancing students' knowledge so that they can solve problems independently, nor are there opportunities for formative assessment in video lectures. Thus, some critics would argue that the flipped classroom is no more effective that the lecture format. For educators, flipped instruction presents several new problems. Much of the content of pre-recorded lectures becomes obsolete in rapidly changing disciplines (Davis, Neary, & Vaughn, 2014; Slomanson, 2014), creating online lectures can be time-consuming (Arfstrom & Aaronson, 2013; Benjes-Small & Tucker, 2014; Lage, Platte, & Treglia, 2000; McLaughlin, et al., 2014), and students accustomed to the lecture format may initially resist being an active participant in learning (Davis, Neary & Vaughn, 2014; Herreid & Schiller, 2013). Finally, some educators speculate that the novelty of flipped instruction, as with any innovation in pedagogy, will only temporarily improve student interest (Slomanson, 2014). As technology progresses and educators hone the flipped teaching paradigm, many of the perceived and real drawbacks will be likely diminished.

The Philosophical Roots of the Flipped Classroom

Educational psychologists have advocated the use of active, personalized learning strategies long before technology made it possible. Writing in the early Soviet era, L. S. Vygotsky emphasized the potential of young children to reach a higher level of development and learning through collaborative work. His development of the "zone of proximal development," or the idea that students have greater learning potential in groups than learning on their own, was a hallmark of his theory of learning (Vygotsky & Cole, 1978, p. 88). Vygotsky debunked earlier notions of children as blank slates upon which experts delivered their knowledge. This antiquated notion of learning and child development gave rise to the traditional lecture. The lecture has been criticized as a relic of Industrial Age education system that emphasized conformity and memorization of facts over creativity and individuation (Bergmann & Sams, 2012, p. 6). In the 1960s, Benjamin Bloom proposed a ‘master learner’ model in which students receive individual instruction, work at their own pace, and receive regular formative assessments from instructors (Bergmann & Sams, 2012, p. 52), while Fred Keller developed the Keller Plan. The Keller Plan advocated "chunking" long lectures into discrete units for learners to master. B. F. Skinner advocated sequential learning in the 1960s, in which students had to master each concept or problem before advancing to the next with prompt feedback from an instructor, as an alternative to delayed feedback and assessing large units of information (Logue, 2012). While these theories were incorporated in alternative schools, most public and standardized curriculums resisted change and thus, the lecture has remained a central part of the classroom experience in many schools.

Early Practitioners of Flipped Instruction

While not using the term "flipped instruction," there have been a number of entrepreneurial educators who have practiced elements of flipped learning over the past thirty years. These educators saw the value of active learning and transitioning the role of an educator from a disseminator of knowledge to a facilitator of learning. Eric Mazur, a physics instructor at Harvard, began using a "peer instruction" model in the 1980s. Students are given a brief lecture on a topic and are then given a problem to work out based on instruction, and then they must convince group members of their approach (Crouch and Mazur, 2001, p. 970). While not a truly "flipped" model, Mazur’s approach embodies of some of the elements of the flipped classroom, one that has been successfully implemented in several disciplines with success (Berrett, 2012). Lage, Platt, and Trelia (2000) used the term "inverted classroom" to describe their approach to teaching large sections of microeconomics courses at Miami University in early 2000. This model of teaching is more or less the flipped model with a different name; lectures were made available outside of class and the class time was dedicated to helping students apply concepts. All lectures were videotaped and made available in the campus library. Students also had access to PowerPoints and learning aids on a campus website. Instead of lecturing for the majority of face-to-face time, students participated in hands-on activities to demonstrate economic principles. In this course, students reported higher satisfaction on course evaluations than in previous "non-flipped" sections of microeconomics. 

A Very Recent History of Flipped Library Instruction

Since this model of teaching has only been recently documented, much of the evidence of its success is largely anecdotal. The first formally published success story of flipped library instruction was the work of two high school educators in Michigan. Karen Villegas, a librarian, and Diane Montgomery, an English teacher, at Gross Pointe North High School described their process of flipping library instruction. Previously, they assigned students a research paper with pre-selected topics and had a librarian lecture about research for one class period. In the flipped model, students picked their own topic and debated their topics in class. They then researched sources to prove (and disprove) their thesis statements. Students learned about research as they performed it, rather than having their topic parameters dictated by a teacher. The authors of this article informally observed that students were more engaged in the research process and more nuanced in their topics when using the flipped model than when using the older instructional model. (Villegas & Montgomery, 2012). Librarians in K-12 and in post-secondary environments have reported similar success stories with the flipped classroom since then (Dating & Ruswick, 2013; Bayliss, 2013; Hersey & Belcher, 2013; Shamchuck & Plouffe, 2013). 

How Flipped Instruction Complements the Goals of Librarianship

Flipped library instruction complements the actual practices of instructional librarians and the mission of information literacy instruction. Many librarians are already familiar with technologies used to make instruction content accessible online. Doing this increases the likelihood that librarians can transform face-to-face instruction to inculcate higher order critical thinking skills. The flipped model is especially advantageous for librarians with large teaching loads; recording lectures reduces fatigue from teaching and permits reuse and scalability (Leibiger & Aldrich, 2014). Librarians are generally more acquainted with technologies that enable flipping (Bayliss, 2013) and many basic procedural skills can be effectively taught through online tutorials (Millman, 2012). High school librarian Brenda Boyer sums up the unique opportunity of a lecture-free classroom for librarians: “Flipping really underscores the importance of independent exploratory learning, maximizing the librarian’s instructional capital” (Bayliss, 2013).

The emphasis on social justice in librarianship complements using the flipped instructional model and its assumptions on learning as a process of empowerment. Reidler and Eyarman (2010) propose a new model of library education based on the works of social constructivists and Marxist educational theorist Paulo Freire called the "transformative and community-based model" (p. 92). Like earlier social constructivists, Riedler and Eyarman posit that knowledge is not based on objective reality, but instead, groups can create new knowledge through dialogue and applying previous life experiences. This Freirean model of library education is thought to teach critical thinking skills and foster two-way dialogue between librarians and library users (Riedler & Eyarman, 2010, p. 92). While instructional librarians may not subscribe to a Marxist-oriented educational model, advocates of flipped library instruction cite the emphasis on the learner rather than the content and a desire for a more collaborative, democratic learning process as reasons for adopting the flipped classroom paradigm. 

Comprehensive Studies of Flipped Library Instruction

At this point, there is little comprehensive or longitudinal evidence that proves the efficacy of flipped library instruction. When doing extensive research for this topic, I found only two articles with comprehensive assessments of flipped library instruction. Arnold-Garza (2014) cites mixed success of the flipped classroom model in library instruction. Out of 148 participants in a focus group of undergraduate students at Towson University, 86% found the in-class activities helpful. 45% of the students indicated that they would have preferred “class time devoted to explanation of key concepts” (Arnold-Garza, 2014). Instructional librarians answered a questionnaire of their experiences in which they noted that students seem no more attentive or inquisitive than in lecture-based library instruction. Boston College librarians involved in teaching a course in advanced legal research flipped their teaching methods in the 2012-2013 school year with phenomenal success. Despite the work required to record videos and keep them up-to-date, librarians reported widespread improvement in student learning. Davis, Neary, and Vaughn (2013) observed that students asked more in-depth questions about legal research as most of them had learned basic legal research strategies through watching tutorials online (p. 15). This allowed the librarian-instructors to focus on teaching students how to find legal precedents for very specific cases and collaborate with classmates on how to pinpoint the best legal information, both of which are good skills for future lawyers (p. 19). 

Preparing to Flip: Suggestions from Educators

Since flipped library instruction is a nascent concept, there is also little agreement on how to best deliver flipped instruction. When preparing for flipped instruction, several educators have suggested making lower-level skills in Bloom’s taxonomy, such as identifying or recalling, available through outside learning materials. Class time can then be devoted to higher level cognitive domains, such as evaluation (Arnold-Garza, 2014; Bergmann & Sams, 2012; Talbert, 2013). It is recommended that new instructors began by flipping one lesson, rather than a whole course (Bergmann & Sams, 2012; Demski, 2014). It should be noted that even the strongest proponents of flipped learning do not believe that all learning objectives can be delivered outside of class. Learners generally need scaffolding from an instructor to grasp more abstract concepts and skills (Leibiger & Aldrich, 2011; Kahn, 2011; Millman, 2012), and thus, it is recommended that this type of content should be taught exclusively in the classroom. 

Recording lectures can be a daunting task for librarians unfamiliar with recording and screencasting technologies.  Fortunately, there are many free, easy-to-use tools to assist librarians in flipping their instructional content. Some of the most commonly cited tools include YouTube, SnagIt, Jing, and Camtasia (Bergmann & Sams, 2012; Slomanson, 2014). In keeping the with the social constructivist framework, lectures should begin with a conceptual problem in a discipline and engage students in solving a problem using the methods of the academic discipline (Hoffman, 2014; Villegas & Montgomery, 2012).  Another common suggestion in the flipped classroom literature is to "chunk" the content, or break up a long lecture into multiple videos (Kahn, 2011; Dating & Ruswick, 2013; Logue, 2012). Breaking down a long lecture into discrete units which must be mastered to move to the next level, which the Keller Plan advocated, is a proven way to ensure that students acquire a comprehensive understanding of a lesson (Logue, 2012).

To hold students accountable for watching materials before class, educators suggest giving a quiz immediately after watching/reading the lecture content (Benjes-Small & Tucker, 2013; Leibiger & Aldrich, 2014). The results of these quizzes can be used to pinpoint students’ weaknesses. Class time can then be spent reviewing unfamiliar concepts.  During the class meeting, it has been suggested that educators formatively assess student learning and offer feedback as quickly as possible (Arfstrom & Aronson, 2013; Bayliss, 2013; Benjes-Small & Tucker, 2013; Demski, 2014; Herreid & Schiller, 2013; McLaughlin, et al, 2014; Robert, 2014). There are several easy-to-use technologies for quick formative assessments. Student response systems (clickers) operate using remotes. Students’ answers are then projected onto a web page. A free alternative tool is Poll Everywhere. Students are allowed to cast a vote via text message and view their results instantaneously on a web page. Class activities should leverage the power the power of peer mentoring through group work (Bergmann & Sams, 2012; Crouch & Mazur, 2001) as this is a proven way to increase student learning (Vygotsky, 1978). Group assignments allow students to "catch up" their peers and foster participation of students reluctant to ask questions in class. 


To accomplish my stated goal of determining the prevalence of flipped library instruction and articulating a set of common practices, I devised a 21 question survey in Google Forms. This survey was entitled "Library Instruction Best Practices." The choice of the title was intentional. I wanted to include the perspectives of librarians who were not acquainted with the term "flipped classroom." I also wanted to include those librarians who blend instruction sessions with lectures and applied activities. The survey consisted of three sections: 1) familiarity with the flipped classroom model, 2) self-reflection on librarians’ typical teaching strategies, and 3) reflection on the merits of flipped library instruction. This survey was designed to record the efforts of librarians teaching somewhere along the "flipped" continuum, so individuals who strictly lectured in library instruction were not permitted to participate in the second and third sections of the survey. A copy of the survey is available in Appendix A.

The survey was written in broad, inclusive terms keeping in mind that the term "flipped instruction" is open to interpretation. I also wanted to avoid a false dichotomy between "flipped" and "traditional" methods since most educators engage in a blended approach with lecture and hands-on activities during instructional sessions. The survey was disseminated on several electronic mailing lists (ALA ILI-L, Assoc. of Christian Librarians Mailing List, Tennessee Library Association ListServ) and social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) used by instructional librarians in early May 2014. I briefly introduced the topic of my paper and invited all instructional librarians, whether in school or academic settings, to participate. 


A total of 50 surveys were completed. Figure 1 compiles the ratio of lecturing-to-flipping instruction among instructional librarians polled. The most common response—as expected—is a blended approach, where librarians lecture for 25% to 75% of the time in a typical library instruction session.

Figure 1: Instructional librarians self-reported ratio of lecture-to-active learning in a typical instruction session

Select Appropriate Cognitive Domains for Instructional Content Delivered Before Class and in Class

In response the question, “Do you generally require students to 'prep' for your instruction session by viewing tutorials, web pages, or reading some type of learning resource?,” 60% of the participants responded affirmatively.  Another survey question dealt with how instructional librarians determined what to cover outside of class. The most common response was that basic library information and how-to videos were assigned out of class. Most librarians in this survey felt that higher order cognitive skills, such as evaluating and synthesizing information sources, were more appropriate to develop in class. Figure 2 illustrates how most librarians decide what cognitive domains in Bloom’s taxonomy can be covered in a pre-recorded lecture and which ones should be covered through in-class activities. A few respondents mentioned that they tailored the content of the section to meet the needs of instructors. 

Figure 2. Selecting appropriate domains for pre-class instructional materials.

This survey included several open-ended questions to gather the experiences of librarians in flipping instruction. One such question asked librarians to describe a flipped learning experience that went smoothly. The most common responses to this question were that students learned something useful for their own research and that they were either "actively engaged in the research process" or had their participation validated by a librarian. In terms of successful activities, the most common response (eight responses) was article searching on databases, particularly those where the librarian gave minimal direction and let students explore their topic with some professional guidance. In an open-ended question about unsuccessful "flips," it should be noted that the most common responses were that students had not reviewed learning resources prior to class and that the librarians had failed to communicate the flipped concept to faculty or students. Several respondents indicated that due to lack of students’ preparation, the "flip" was not possible. 

Selecting Appropriate Format for Delivering Instructional Content

The 60% of instructional librarians who assigned learning materials before class were then asked what formats of instructional materials they assigned. Participants in the survey had the option of checking several types of formats that they commonly assigned to students. Video tutorials and instructional web pages were the most common format of pre-class assignment, as Figure 3 illustrates. 

Figure 3. Formats of learning materials instructional librarians assign before class.

Structuring Face-to-Face Time in the Flipped Instruction Model

The next question inquired about how librarians divide up class time between lecturing (if any) and in-class activities. Virtually all participants responded that they spent twenty minutes or less lecturing in a typical instruction session. Most lecturing occurred when the librarian introduced the topic and gave instructions for the activity. 

Regarding how librarian assess student learning, the most common response was that they used informal, formative assessment techniques. Most assessment took the form of asking questions and noting students’ body language. Ten respondents reported using quizzes either before or during class to gauge student learning. Three respondents reported using instant feedback technology, such as "clickers" and Poll Everywhere. Five of the respondents found competitive games the most successful tool to engage students.

Student and Faculty Reactions to the Flipped Classroom

The next questions dealt with students and faculty reactions to flipped instruction. Nearly every respondent reported that students responded positively to flipped instruction. Though many students were initially surprised by the interactive nature of the classroom, most obliged with the activities, were more engaged that in lecture-based instruction, and were appreciative that they were able to make progress on their research for upcoming assignments. Faculty members were consistently positive in their regards for flipped library instruction. With only a few exceptions, the instructional librarians reported that faculty members were impressed with flipped library instruction. Three respondents related that their flipped instruction inspired the faculty for whom they offered instruction to implement flipped instruction in their teaching. 

Honing the Craft of Flipped Library Instruction

The final section of questions asked instructional librarians how they felt about the flipped instruction model, its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for enhancing library instruction. When asked about the limitations of this model, eight librarians responded that complete faculty buy-in is essential. Faculty members need to be aware of this model and support librarians by requiring students to review learning resources before class. When asked about the strengths of this model, several librarians responded that it leads to more meaningful questions and frees up class time taken by lecturing. Students appreciated the in-class activities tailored to their research needs and the librarians appreciated the ability to customize their instruction in class rather than giving a generic lecture about library resources. One question in this section asked librarians how they think flipped instruction could be best delivered. Four librarians indicated in this open-ended question that better collaboration with faculty is needed to make flipped library instruction fruitful. These respondents suggested that faculty should be responsible for giving grades for library assessments. Instructional librarians also expressed a desire for faculty to communicate clear, specific goals for library instruction in order that they avoid irrelevant instructional content. Two of the respondents indicated that they wanted to improve the quality of their videos and other instructional aids. The final question in this survey was an optional, open-ended section where respondents could leave additional comments about flipped library instruction. Of those participants who left a response, several indicated that creating flipped instruction content would be time-consuming. One respondent opined that the value of flipping instruction is not necessarily saving time, but engaging the students. Two respondents cautioned that the flipped model should not be implemented in a one-shot session. Instead, they felt that the librarian must have a consistent presence in a class, usually by means of embedded librarianship, to understand the needs of the class and tailor group activities to meet the course’s learning objectives. Many students are unaccustomed to flipped instruction and thus, instructional librarians need a consistent, authoritative presence in a class to set student expectations. 


This study demonstrates that librarians can effectively deliver flipped instruction with several caveats. The flipped classroom presents an opportunity to revitalize library instruction, and when done well, can improve student learning engagement and inspire other educators to innovate their teaching. To effectively flip library instruction, faculty must "buy in" to this concept enough to require their students to prepare for class. Most librarians in the survey noted less-than-successful flipped experiences where they had not clearly communicated the purpose of flipping or the importance of student preparation to make the flip happen. As flipped instruction is a relatively new concept, many students may come to class expecting to passively listen to a lecture and may initially resist having to do active learning exercises. In situations where librarians clearly communicate the flipped classroom paradigm to faculty and students and students are held accountable by their instructors to review library resources, flipping the instruction can be impactful for students. At best, the classroom is transformed from static delivery of information to a collaborative, engaging learning space. The challenges for librarians to create an optimal flipped learning experience include taking the time to make high quality instructional aids (such as video tutorials) that are reusable and scalable for larger classes.  It is incumbent on librarians and instructors to partner together to ensure that students review library learning resources before class and that in-class activities are relevant to the needs of the class.

The results of this survey complement social constructivist assumptions about learners and the learning process.  With the help of easy-to-use technological tools, educators in all disciplines are now able to push lecture content outside the classroom and offer personalized instruction and time for peer mentoring in the classroom. While the flipped classroom is not a new methodology, it is an innovative concept that can stimulate discussions about how we educate students. While I have used the labels "flipped" and "traditional" generously in this article, these labels are ideal types on a continuum of teaching strategies. Most educators employ a ratio of lecturing to hands-on activities depending on the needs of a particular class. This survey confirms what has been stated in previous studies and anecdotal observations. Students retain information when they must actively apply knowledge and learn more when offered personalized attention rather than a "one-size-fits-all" lecture. A classroom that is built around students’ needs was a dream conceived by educational theorists like Vygotsky, Piaget, Keller, and Freire, and is now being made possible through technology.

This study also confirms some of the limitations of flipped learning mentioned in the professional literature. For example, higher order thinking skills cannot be taught outside the classroom since abstract ideas and skills need scaffolding from an instructor. It would be naïve to assume, based on this survey and other studies, that students will embrace the flipped model and take ownership for their learning. Student motivation to complete work outside of class is essential for the flipped model to work. The transition of the educator from the "sage on a stage" to learning facilitator is not a seamless transition. Teachers and librarians attest that flipping can be a messy, chaotic process. One cannot predict how long it might take a class to grasp a new skill or concept. Nor can one anticipate every logistical challenge of group work or how to provide individualized assistance to a classroom of fifty or more students. Instructors and librarians need to clearly communicate the purpose of flipping, articulate their expectations to students, and outline the consequences of failing to prepare for class.

Finally, the flipped classroom is not a panacea for all educational ills. Long recorded lectures that convey too much information are no better than seated lectures that do the same. The classroom experience needs to be one for applying and honing the foundational skills covered in recorded lecture or other learning resources. Face-to-face time in the flipped model should not duplicate what students have already learned and practiced before class. Educators should not expect a mastery of skills prior to face-to-face instruction time. A common grievance of flipped instruction is that students are simply exposed to too much information between virtual lectures and class activities. Librarians and other educators must ensure that class time is spent applying foundational concepts learned outside of class and advancing this knowledge through scaffolding and peer mentoring.


Flipped instruction is a popular buzzword in education for a set of practices that emphasize hands-on application, evaluation, and synthesis of ideas in the classroom with learning resources made accessible remotely on digital platforms. Educators are still divided on whether the flipped classroom will address problems that its proponents believe it will solve. Educators are challenged to find creative solutions that address how new generations learn, how to best harness technology, and how to optimize seated instructional time given the potential of online learning.  Instructional librarians have been generally ahead of the curve on adopting flipped teaching strategies. At the same time, there are reasons to believe that flipped instruction is no more effective than traditional lecture-based instruction and that neither all students nor all learning environments can accommodate flipped learning. At present, some instructional librarians have successfully flipped their instruction by ensuring that: 1) students and faculty understand the reason for flipped instruction, 2) students take the initiative to learn independently, 3) librarians partner closely with instructors if they wish to flip their instruction, and 4) that face-to-face instructional time is used to apply concepts covered in pre-class assignments rather than overload students with new knowledge. If these factors are present, it certainly stands to reason that flipped library instruction can enhance the quality and depth of library instruction and that librarians can spur educators in other disciplines to innovate their teaching strategies.


Arfrstrom, K., & Aronson, N. (2013). Flipped learning in higher education [White paper]. Retrieved from

Arnold-Garza, S. (2014). The flipped classroom: Assessing an innovative teaching model for effective and engaging library instruction. College and Research Libraries News, 75(1), 10-13.

Barnett, P. E. (2014, February 4). Let's scramble, not flip, the classroom. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Bayliss, S. (2013, October 21) . Flipping the library: Tips from three pros. The Digital Shift. Retrieved from

Benjes-Small, C., & Tucker, K. (2013). Keeping up with...flipped classrooms. Keeping Up With.... Retrieved from

Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Bergmann, J., & Waddell, D. (2012). Point/counterpoint: To flip or not to flip? Learning & Leading with Technology, 39(8), 6-7. Retrieved from

Berrett, D. (2012, February 24). How "flipping" the classroom can improve the traditional lecture. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 58(25), A16-A18.

Crouch, C. H., & Mazur, E. (2001). Peer instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics, 69, 970-977. 

Cullen, R. M., & Harris, M. (2012). The learner-centered curriculum: Design and implementation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Datig, I., & Ruswick, C. (2013). Four quick flips: Activities for the information literacy classroom. College & Research Libraries News, 74(5), 249-257.

Davis, L. E., Neary, M. A., & Vaughn, S. E. (2013). Teaching advanced legal research in a flipped classroom. Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing, 22(1), 13-19.

Demski, J. (2013, January 23). 6 expert tips for flipping the classroom. Campus Technology. Retrieved from

Hamdan, N., McKnight, P., McKnight, K., & Arfstrom, K. (2013). A review of flipped learning. Retrieved from

Herreid, C. F., & Schiller, N. A. (2013). Case studies and the flipped classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 42(5), 62-66. 

Hersey, H., & Belcher, S. (2013). Flip your library. Leading & Learning with Technology, 41(4), 22-24.  Retrieved from:

Hoffman, E. S. (2014). Beyond the flipped classroom: Redesigning a research methods course for e3 instruction. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 7(1), 51-62. 

Kahn, S. (2011, March). Let’s use video to reinvent education [Video file]. Retrieved from

Lage, M. J., Platt, G. J., & Treglia, M. (2000). Inverting the classroom: A gateway to creating an inclusive learning environment. Journal of Economic Education, 31(1), 30-43. 

Leibiger, C. A., & Aldrich, A. W. (2014). The inversion-conversion: Applying flipped teaching to library instruction [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

Logue, A. W. (2012, October 8). Higher ed disruption: Not so new. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

McLaughlin, J. E., Roth, M. T., Glatt, D. M., Gharkholonarehe, N., Davidson, C. A., Griffin, L. M., Esserman, D. A.,  Mumper, R. J. (2014). The flipped classroom: A course redesign to foster learning and engagement in a health professions school. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 89(2), 236-43.

Milman, N. B. (2012). The flipped classroom strategy: What is it and how can it best be used? Distance Learning, 9(3), 85-87. 

Nielsen, L. (2012). Five reasons I'm not flipping over the flipped classroom. Technology & Learning, 32(10), 46.

Raths, D. (2014, January 15). How to make the most of the flipped classroom. Campus Technology. Retrieved from

Riedler, M., & Eryaman, M. (2010). Transformative library pedagogy and community-based libraries: A Freirian perspective. In G. J. Leckie (Ed.), Critical theory for library and information science: Exploring the social from across the disciplines (pp. 89-99). Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited.

Robert, T. (2014). Creating learning objectives, flipped classroom style. Casting Out Nines. Retrieved from

Sams, A., & Bergmann, J. (2013). Flip your students' learning. Educational Leadership, 70(6), 16.

Shamchuk, L., & Plouffe, L. (2013). MacEwan University Library's pedagogical shift. College & Research Libraries News, 74(9), 480-495.

Slomanson, W. R. (2014).  Blending learning: A flipped classroom experiment. Journal of Legal Education, 64(1), 93-102. 

Springen, K. (2013). Flipped. School Library Journal, 59(4), 23.

Straumsheim, C. (2013, September 9). Flipping med ed. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Talbert, R.  (2013, June 10). A divide-and-conquer approach to planning a flipped classroom [Blog post]. Casting Out Nines. Retrieved from

Valenza, J. (2012). The flipping librarian. Teacher Librarian, 40(2), 22-25.

Villegas, K., & Montgomery, D. (2012). Flipping research. School Library Monthly, 28(4), 37-38.

Vygotsky, L. S., & Cole, M. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


Library Instruction Best Practices Survey

This survey is for instructional librarians (school or academic) to gauge if and how they conduct flipped (sometimes called inverted) learning: where lecture content is delivered outside of class and active is used in class time. If you are an instructional librarian and you incorporate some type of active learning in your instruction (but not necessarily flipped/inverted), please fill out this survey. This survey will take about 20-25 minutes to fill out. 
1. Have you heard of the term ‘flipped classroom’ or ‘flipped learning’ used before?
2. Have you heard this method of instruction (outlined in the summary above) using something OTHER THAN the ‘flipped classroom’?
3.  If you answered yes to the last question, what term have you heard this method of teaching called?
4.  Which of the following best describes how you conduct library instruction sessions?
Think about how you conduct instruction: do you, generally speaking, spend more time lecturing or guiding students through in-class activities? Or a mix of both?
5.  Do you generally require students to ‘prep’ for your instruction sessions by viewing tutorials, web pages, or some other type of learning resources?
6. If you answered yes to the last question, what kinds of resources do you generally assign students to watch/read prior to a library instruction session? (Check all that apply).
a. Video tutorials
b. Instructional web pages on the library’s website/LibGuides/info pathfinder (yours or another institution’s).
c. Textbook or other assigned reading for the course in which the students are enrolled
d. Powerpoints, word documents, or other presentation-based learning aides
e. Other resources: _____________________________
7.  How do you determine what you will cover outside of/before class? What kinds of skills competencies do you generally cover inside class? Think about the levels in Bloom’s taxonomy and particular info lit skills. What kinds of skills are usually covered outside of class what skills are covered in face-to-face skills?
8.  Think of a librarian instruction session that wonderfully using active learning. Describe how you prepared for the session; what you assigned your students, what happened in the class, the results of assessments, and any other relevant data.
9.  Describe why you think the session was successful.
10.  Think of librarian instruction session that used active learning and was NOT successful. Describe how you prepared for the session; what you assigned your students, what happened in the class, the results of assessments, and any other relevant data.
11.  Describe why you think the session was NOT successful. 
12.  What do you typically assign students to do before coming to a flipped library instruction session?
13.  Describe how you conduct a flipped classroom experience: How much time do you generally spend lecturing (if any), doing group activity, assessment.
14.  What types of assessment do you use before class, during class, and after class? Think about all the ways you assess (both formally and informally). How do you assess students’ learning and when?
15.  What types of activities do you find have been most helpful in engaging students?
16.  What have been some of the students’ reactions to flipped library instruction?
17.  What have some of the faculty members’ reactions to flipped library instruction?
18.  What weaknesses (if any) do you perceive in the flipped teaching method?
19.  What strengths (if any) do you perceive in the flipped teaching method?
20.  Generally speaking, how do you think instructional librarians can deliver better flipped instruction?
21.  Are there any other comments or observations you would like to make about flipped instruction?



Seth Allen is Online Instruction Librarian at King University. He can be reached at


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial






Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal