Meet Joe Salamon

Flipping the Classroom

It’s called flipping the classroom and MiraCosta College Physics Professor Joe Salamon is a master at it.

Unlike traditional lesson plans in which students are exposed to content during class lectures and then head home to read and work on assignments, flipping the classroom means students read up on assignments before coming to class and class time is reserved for cooperative learning where students work on projects together.

“Class time is a time to work as a team,” said Salamon, who earned his doctorate in physics at University of California, San Diego, and who has made presentations on the subject at various conferences.

Every class he has taught at MiraCosta College since he was hired three years ago has been revamped to a flipped format. And data shows that it’s working. The numbers of students failing or dropping a flipped class in a STEM field are about half as high as in a traditional classroom, Salamon said. What’s more, failure and drop rates are even lower among women and students from traditionally underserved backgrounds.

Students are his biggest fans. “Professor Salamon goes above and beyond to be available to us,” wrote one in an anonymous student survey. “Physics is hard, and he makes us work really hard, make mistakes and learn from them. He wants us to really critically think and pushes us to think outside the box by leaving us with lingering ideas when we ask questions.”

Salamon began teaching at MiraCosta College almost immediately after securing his doctorate in the subject.

“I was looking for a position that had a nice balance between teaching and research, and most of the places I was looking at didn’t really care too much about teaching,” Salamon said. “Not so at MiraCosta, where I can not only focus on teaching, but where the environment encourages you to try new things and experiment a little.”