Have you heard about flipped learning or flipped classroom? If not, in this blog you may find out about this instructional strategy. “A flipped classroom is structured around the idea that lecture or direct instruction is not the best use of class time. Instead, students encounter information before class, freeing class time for activities that involve higher order thinking” (https://bokcenter.harvard.edu/flipped-classrooms). The flipping classroom practice is nothing really new, as it was introduced back in the 80’s and further explored and practiced in 90’s, however, it was not given the proper name. The reason why the concept gained more popularity over recent years is a simple fact of technological changes and technological advancements making it easier to access and create educational materials. Also, with a growing number of modern technology users,flipped classroom gained momentum.
Over years teachers, scholars and educators were thinking about innovative methods making the process of education simpler, faster, and encouraging more student involvement. As stated by Mazur (2009) “The traditional approach to teaching reduces education to a transfer of information”. It is not difficult not to agree with the statement that there was nothing wrong with the traditional approach during times when access to books was not yet a mass commodity, and the “lecture method was the only way to pass information from one generation to the other” (Mazur, 2009). The question is if with changing times, teaching methods offered sufficient adaptation to contemporary learners’ needs and if available methods take enough advantage of available technologies.
Looking at flipped classroom approach (using technology to support learners throughout the learning process) it actually proved to be beneficial for both learners and educators due to:
- its flexibility,
- ability for students to learn at their own pace,
- students handling responsibility for their learning, progression and output,
- encouraging learning rather than encountering material in class,
- teacher’s ability to work closer with students, getting to know students better and provide better assistance,
- increased collaboration between students, and emphasized communication between students and students and teacher,
- promoting all forms of learning including oral, visual, listening, problem-solving (Mo & Mao, 2017).
Naturally, next to the benefits of this particular approach there are certain doubts. One of them is the amount of work and effort students need to invest in outside of class. This can be especially dangerous in a scenario when the approach proves to offer insufficient help in process of learning. As a consequence, disappointed learners may resent outside-of-class work and effort, which will directly result in their inability to contribute to the discussions and affect the rest of the group. Also, the teachers raised their concerns claiming they struggle with creating or finding relevant and interesting sources for students to be used outside of class. Moreover, they stressed that material preparation significantly increases class preparation. Finally, teachers mentioned they may require additional funding to procure training for teachers to navigate computer technologies involved in the successful implementation of this teaching model.
According to Rotellar (2016) among other students’ doubts regarding the use of flipped classrooms, there are:
- pressure of self-learning and strong self-discipline, without proper guidance from a designated instructor, requiring from the student rigorous content learning in order to perform well in the course,
- lack of balance between the required amount of academic work to achieve success within the course, and minimal instructor’s guidance,
- prevailing focus on group discussion and problem-solving activities.
These all are serious concerns, which may result in abandoning the idea of implementing the approach. However, there is research confirming the significant benefits of flipped class model. According to Mo & Mao (2017) “Flipped classroom teaching mode can be accepted by most students, but the flipped frequency depending on the teaching content and teaching needs should be reasonably controlled”. Based on one year-long research conducted among College English Reading classroom students, 92.59% of the control group felt positive about flipped classroom teaching approach. The group stated that their effectiveness of English reading ability has improved, which also confirms the number of raising grades (+19,5%, and +7,16% in the case of quiz test). The research also showed the inevitable importance of teacher’s guidance affecting participation numbers: 37% (without teacher’s involvement) vs 88.89% (with teacher’s guidance). This only proves how much influence on passive avoidance rates a teacher’s role has.
Just like with any other approach, the flipped classroom has its pros and cons. While it proves to bring certain benefits to the process of learning e.g. better performance, at the same time it leads to increased computer time (something adults have already been overdoing and against what we are being warned by medical experts). Some critics claim that providing instructional guidance via videos or presentations does not bring better efforts than following a traditional teaching approach based on reading instructions.
As concluded by Mo & Mao (2017) potential benefits of flipped classroom model may be affected by the method of conducting the classroom and the level of intensity of the course, and they will differ classroom to classroom. With the current amount of research available it is not possible to create rigorous enough practical guidelines for all teachers to use. For this reason, just like with any other method, for some teachers flipped classroom approach can prove to be more effective than for others. Whether it is worth implementing, that’s another question that this article cannot answer.
One for sure, flipped classroom approach adds to the teaching methodology and to some extent can make the process of learning more interesting and involving. As long as the student benefits from it, it is worth the attention and effort put in exploring its advantages and possible gains.
Mazur, E. (2009) "Farewell, Lecture" Science 323:5910 (02 January 2009): 50–51. Available on: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1168927?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed (Accessed: 1 November 2022).
Mo, Jun; Mao, Chunmei (2017) "An Empirical Study on the Effectiveness of College English Reading Classroom Teaching in the Flipped Classroom Paradigm", Revista de la Facultad de Ingeniería U.C.V. 32 (10): 632–639, Available on: Wayback Machine (archive.org) (Accessed: 1 November 2022)
Rotellar PharmD, Cristina, Cain EdD, MS, Jeff (2016) "Research, Perspectives, and Recommendations on Implementing the Flipped Classroom", American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 80 (2): 34. Available on: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827585/ (Accessed: 1 November 2022).
The Derek Bokcenter for Teaching and Learning (2022) "Flipped Classrooms". Available on: https://bokcenter.harvard.edu/flipped-classrooms (Accessed: 1 November 2022).