Flipping (Parts of) the Public Finance Classroom

Nora Gordon (GPPI) · Round 1

This ITEL project sought to address the challenges of the traditional structure of the Public Finance course in the Public Policy Institute. In previous iterations of Public Finance, which is a core course in the Master of Public Policy curriculum, students arrived with widely different levels of understanding of both economic principles and US public policy. The goal of "flipping" the classroom to a hybrid format was to enhance the learning of public finance for students across the range of experiences with and knowledge of policy and economics, which allowed for more in-class interactive learning. Nora Gordon, project investigator, hoped to discover through implementing this project whether students could successfully learn more material on their own before class, thus allowing for more in-class time devoted to problem-solving, and whether devoting that time to problem-solving would in fact enhance students' skills.

I have learned that it is in fact possible to force students to adequately prepare for class in advance, and that doing so is quite beneficial.

Nora Gordon

Flipped content included pre-recorded videos the students watched, which aligned with their required reading. Students also participated in a variety of games and experiments during class time. These activities were designed to satisfy the course goal of training students to think about public policy like economists.

Overall, students who participated in this flipped classroom indicated that they perceived the structure to be beneficial to their learning. Gordon found that, compared to previous iterations of this class, the bottom end of her grading distribution in this class was higher than previous years. To continue this work, Gordon was awarded a subsequent ITEL grant to build a library of lecture captures along with four other McCourt School of Public Policy faculty members.


Gordon, Nora. "Flipping (parts of) the Public Finance Classroom." Presented at the Teaching, Learning & Innovation Summer Institute, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, May 2014.

Gordon, Nora. "Flipping (parts of) the Public Finance Classroom." Presented at the McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, April 2014.

In the News

"ITEL Thematic Spotlight: Flipping the Classroom" in Issue 3 of The Prospect