By Leahann Renaud
To a non-teacher, the notion of a “flipped” (Baker, 2000) or “inverted” (Lage, Platt & Treglia, 2000) classroom is a relatively new concept. However, from my career perspective focused in higher education and instructional design experience, I find this method of teaching and learning to be growing in popularity. With current trends in educational reform concentrated on shifts in traditional teaching methods, I aim to explore whether the flipped classroom is really worth flipping-out over within post-secondary education (PSE).
The flipped classroom model suggests moving the delivery of content and curriculum outside of formal classroom hours (via video lectures, required readings, and other means), to allow face-to-face classroom time for student-teacher, interactivity and collaboration relevant to the course material (Butt, 2014, p. 33; Hill, 2013, August 26). This inverted method acts to incorporate constructivist, problem and inquiry-based learning to student-centered approaches, which are commonly regarded as more effective alternatives to traditional teacher directed instruction.
Whereas limited academic literature exists on the effectiveness of inverted classroom methods, early studies indicate that students excel in a flipped classroom environment. According to a recent North American study, the pass rate of students from San Jose State University and the grade score of students from the University of British Columbia was upwards of 30% higher for those grouped in some type of flipped course format than for those who received traditional instruction (Caramanico, 2013, December 29). Reports also indicate that student response to a flipped classroom model is positive. Research conducted at the Australian National University indicate that over 75% of students who participated in an inverted classroom course considered the model to be “beneficial to their learning experience compared to a didactic lecture structure” (Butt, 2014, p. 41).
While advantages of the flipped classroom can also include flexible learning schedules, efficient use of formal class time, and hands-on practical learning experiences (Hill, 2013, August 26), there is significant value in listening to what the critics are saying.
A prominent challenge with the flipped classroom model concerns student learning preferences and preparedness. Whereas this approach invokes interaction, collaboration, and socialization during face-to-face class time, learning strategies often favour extroverts over introverts, or those who prefer individual reflection within a group space (Honeycutt, 2014, February 17). A flipped classroom is not a ‘one size fits all’ model; there is potential that the approach could create a wider socio-economic gap among students, providing greater advantages to the higher-income population base with means to modern technology, as opposed to lower-income students, or those from rural areas with limited internet access (Findlay-Thompson & Mombourquette, 2014, p. 64-67). Further, we must consider what role the instructor plays within the flipped classroom, and how this influences teacher identity. Tucker (2012) argues that teachers may find themselves in a constant battle with the technology; whereas software and online tools will continue to evolve, teachers will be required to commit to training and managing flipped classroom technology to ensure the approach is effective in engaging learners (Findlay-Thompson & Mombourquette, 2014, p. 66).
As with most unconventional approaches to teaching and learning, the concept of a flipped classroom summons various current issues within the realm of PSE, from student accessibility and learning styles to teacher identity, e-learning technology and sustainability. While the topic is gaining traction within academic literature and among online sources, further research is required in the following areas in order to better assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the flipped classroom model:
- Online Studies – Research generalizes the flipped classroom as consisting of blended learning formats. Further analysis is required to determine whether inverted approaches could work within learning environments offered entirely online. What are the most effective learning management system platforms currently available and what are their features?
- Accessibility – How might the integration of a flipped classroom model impact students with physical/learning disabilities? What services should institutions of higher education offer to ensure equal access and opportunity for all learners?
- Instructor/Teacher Identity – With a move toward online-system integration, how does this student-centered approach affect the role of our current instructors? What does this mean for future teacher training? Could PSE retain tenured faculty considering shifts away from traditional lecture instruction?
- For a further comparison of traditional and inverted classroom approaches, check out Honeycutt’s (2012) assessment: http://www.flipitconsulting.com/2012/08/30/the-lecture-vs-the-flip/
- This blog only touches the surface of the flipped classroom model. For more on this debate, check out the article “To Flip or Not to Flip?”, as published in the International Society for Technology in Education (2012): http://www.iste.org/learn/publications/learning-leading/issues/june-july-2012/point-counterpoint-to-flip-or-not-to-flip-
TED Talk: Salman Khan (2011, March), on the Khan Academy , video tutorial and the flipped classroom approach for effective learning : http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education.html
Baker, J.W. (2000). The classroom flip: Using web course management tools to become the guide by the side.” In: 11th International Conference on College Teaching and Learning (p. 12-15). Florida, United States.
Butt, A. (2014). Student views on the use of a flipped classroom approach: Evidence from Australia.
Business Education & Accreditation, 6(1), p. 33-43. Retrieved from: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=38ca5ab0-c875-4889-b376-91541681c90b%40sessionmgr4005&vid=4&hid=4211
Caramanico, N. (2013, December 29). K-12 Blueprint: Is flipped education worth flipping for? Retrieved from: http://www.k12blueprint.com/content/flipped-education-worth-flipping
Findlay-Thompson, S. & Mombourquette, P. (2014). Evaluation of a flipped classroom in an undergraduate business course. Business & Education Accreditation 6(1), p. 63-71. Retrieved from:http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.proxy.library.brocku.ca/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=e2174521-1f1d-4ce8-bfc2-fc6c64ffd043@sessionmgr114&hid=116
Hill, C.A. (2013, August 26). Faculty Focus: The benefits of flipping your classroom. Retrieved from:
Honeycutt, B. (2014, February 17). Faculty Focus: The flipped classroom: Tips for integrating moments of reflection. Retrieved from: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/instructional-design/flipped-classroom-tips-integrating-moments-reflection/?campaign=FF140217article
Honeycutt, B. (2012, August 30). Flip It Consulting: The lecture vs. the flip. Retrieved from:
Khan, S. (2011, March). Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education. TED. Video retrieved from:
Lage, M. J., Platt, G.J., & Treglia, M. (2000). Inverting the classroom: A gateway to creating an inclusive learning environment. Journal of Economic Education, 31(1), p. 30-43. Retrieved from: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.proxy.library.brocku.ca/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=38ca5ab0-c875-4889-b376-91541681c90b%40sessionmgr4005&vid=4&hid=4211
Tucker, B. (2012). The flipped classroom: Online instruction at home frees class time for learning. Education Next, 12(1). Retrieved from: http://educationnext.org/the-flipped-classroom/