Music professor’s flipped classroom approach engages students virtually


As part of the TCU Connected Campus plan, all faculty, including the School of Music’s Sean Atkinson, have undergone extensive training to design and adapt high-quality, engaging courses no matter if they are online on in-person this fall.

Associate professor of music theory Sean Atkinson filmed a short video to share with his students what they can expect in class this fall.

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic made online learning a new reality for many, Atkinson, an associate professor of music theory, started using the flipped classroom strategy—a blend of virtual and in-person education—in his classes.

The flipped classroom employs the use of recorded lectures, video content and relevant readings that are assigned to students in between scheduled class times. This type of virtual instruction reinforces important course topics and provides opportunity for deeper discussion and, thus comprehension, when classes meet.

It’s also a way to keep students highly engaged with learning when their classes are offered online. All of Atkinson’s classes will meet fully online in the fall semester, and the flipped classroom strategy is something he plans to continue.

“I started using aspects of a flipped classroom about eight years ago,” said Atkinson. “The concept itself is predicated on the idea that class time—the time in which students and teachers are able to interact with each other—is the most valuable time for a course. I have seen clear improvements in both student engagement and comprehension.”

Like many faculty members across the TCU campus, Atkinson recently reached out to students in his Introduction to Form and Analysis course to share an update about what they can expect in class this fall. In addition to continued use of the flipped classroom approach, Atkinson will allot for informal class time, so he and his students can maintain the spirit of connectedness at TCU.

“Every couple of weeks, I will set aside time during class just to talk—and about whatever. A cool TV show…a great new album…or life as college student in 2020,” said Atkinson in the video. “I promise you that we will have a better experience this way than in a socially distanced classroom.”

TCU faculty are committed to providing an outstanding academic experience for students, whether courses are online, in person or a combination of both. For more information and resources for fall 2020, visit the TCU Connected Campus site.