The Learning Process in Loops

The Inverted Classroom Combined with Agile Competence Orientation

Bernhard DreesHerrsching (GER), May 2023 - Bernhard Drees is Head of the Department of Work Organization & Social Sciences at the Bavarian University of Public Service. His courses are based on an unusual methodological mix: "The inverted classroom meets agile competence orientation". This is also his topic at the "university@LEARNTEC" on 23 May at 10:30 on the Focus Stage in Hall 1.

The "inverted classroom" is a well-known method. How can it be combined with "agile competence orientation", which requires quite a great degree of guidance?

Bernhard Drees: We have decided to structure the learning process as recurring loops of knowledge acquisition, development, and management; transfer; application; and reflection. For the acquisition, development, and management phases without teachers, there are guided work assignments whose results are taken up by the instructors in the face-to-face sessions.
For each subject area, at least three different types of media - plus additional material - are available. Where necessary, depending on their individual learning goals and previous knowledge, students can use these to deepen their knowledge of the topics. In the face-to-face phases - as long as no "re-teaching" (see below) is necessary - in-depth transfer, application in trainings or practical simulations, and reflection through reviews and retrospective activities take place.
The next topic is worked on using the same sequence. At the end of a study segment, final presentations that pick up on the previous topics are made in small groups, and the segment is thus completed - again, with a review and retrospective activity. The clear structure, which recurs throughout the students’ program, enables the application of agile methods even within a formal learning context. Graf refers to this as the agilization of teaching.

What are the anticipated results of this methodological mix?

Bernhard Drees: The phrase "adults are capable of learning, but unteachable" spontaneously comes to mind. Beyond a certain mandatory minimum standard for all, we can only offer information and opportunities for learning. Accordingly, the results depend strongly on the individual student’s learning goals and willingness to engage in independent knowledge acquisition, development, and management, reflection and, for example, active participation in practical simulations. The range is broad, and this is also reflected in the distribution of the grades. However, we have always been positively surprised and impressed by the depth of the efforts made by the individual students or small groups.

For which target groups is this kind of teaching/learning approach suitable?

Bernhard Drees: Since we try to reach a high transfer rate, some professional experience would be desirable. However, the first part of the course encompasses a learning-competence analysis, and practical phases are included as part of the dual study programs, so the focus is on university-level education. This renders the approach suitable for both university students directly after high school and for more experienced students.

What prior knowledge and training should instructors have?

Bernhard Drees: They definitely require confidence in dealing with various learning formats and clarity about the appropriate role as an instructor since the formats are continually switched. On the first day of the face-to-face phase at the latest, the instructors are required to perform an audit of the learners’ knowledge levels and ascertain whether it is possible to switch directly to the next phase or, when appropriate, whether a content-related exercise, e.g. an explanation or summary, is useful. According to Handke, the inverted classroom then becomes more of a "semi-inverted" model with "re-teaching". This is why, naturally, instructors require familiarity with the content of all the media provided, so they can use them appropriately when needed.

Have evaluations of the topic been done?

Bernhard Drees: No, there aren’t any large-scale evaluations. The concept has been piloted in individual study groups with positive feedback from both students and teachers. The results indicate that the quality of the results of the knowledge acquisition, development, and management efforts in particular are higher than in the previous approach.