What is it about?

For our course on social science research methods, we have created a flipped classroom with blended learning, in which we reversed the traditional set-up of a university course. Basic knowledge transfer takes place via an online environment, where knowledge clips, reading materials and exercises are located. This has freed up class time for active learning exercises, through which students practice with new research methods and techniques. We have found that this course design improves students’ performance, because they get a better experience of what it is like to do research.

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Why is it important?

Many scholars will acknowledge that they developed their own research skills not from studying textbooks or listening to lectures, but simply by doing it. Nonetheless, much research methods education tends to be taught in a traditional, teacher-driven way. Meanwhile, educational studies have found that active learning leads to better student performance, such as deeper understanding of course contents, better retention and higher testing scores. Our article present an innovative course design, the blended flipped classroom, to help students become better researchers.


We hope that our experience might inspire others to undertake similar projects, while also offering guidance on how to do this effectively and efficiently. Setting up a blended flipped classroom takes time, technical skills, and at times a thick skin when encountering resistance from students or colleagues. We describe how we designed and implemented our blended flipped classroom, including the mistakes we have made along the way. We also share a few active learning exercises that we have used in our course and that other teachers may find useful.

Natascha van der Zwan
Universiteit Leiden

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Activating the Research Methods Curriculum: A Blended Flipped Classroom, PS Political Science & Politics, May 2019, Cambridge University Press, DOI: 10.1017/s1049096519000581.
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