Huntington Lecture: Biology professor discusses flipped classroom

Lucy Lu

by Lucy Lu
UMass Boston biology professor Brian White ’81 gave an interactive lecture demonstrating the concept of a flipped classroom Thursday, Jan. 14 in the Film Lecture Hall as a part of the Huntington Lecture Series.
Named after former principal Jennifer Huntington, the Huntington Lectures Series features PTSO-sponsored lectures designed to educate the North community on topics outside of the classroom.
White teaches freshman biology at UMass Boston, where he has implemented a flipped classroom in which students watch lecture videos at home and participate in interactive lessons in class.
White distributed remote-like devices, called i-Clickers, that his students use on a daily basis; they allowed audience members to answer projected multiple-choice surveys that White would discuss soon afterwards.
Despite White’s enthusiasm regarding the flipped classroom, “getting faculty to change the way they teach is extremely difficult,” White said. “The resistance comes from time, but sometimes it’s just about convenience. It is definitely easier for professors to give a lecture than to conduct a discussion.”
The questions typically have more than one answer, but White encourages his students to commit to an answer and “pick their favorite.”
White shared a few freshman biology concepts, including some regarding the role of the recessive gene in TaySach’s disease, a rare, inherited disorder.
Even though some audience members did not know the correct answer to questions regarding those concepts, White said that “even if you’re wrong, you’re presumably more ready to hear the right answer.”