Flipped Learning

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Classrooms today look different then they did twenty years ago. Technology has become more affordable and accessible, students are attached to their phones, and schools are going 1 to 1 with technology. Is the traditional way of teaching outdated? Are there other methods that bring about higher academic achievement that use technology? These are questions that many professionals struggle with. Some researchers argue that the traditional method of teaching has become outdated and useless and does not stimulate a student’s passion for learning.

As the technology becomes more available teachers methods should update as well (Al Yousef et al., 2018). Others say we are doing a disservice to our students by not exposing them to technology in a growing workforce that relies so heavily on technology (Petrillo, 2016). To meet these demands educators have turned to teaching methods such as flipped learning. Flipped learning takes the traditional method of “sit and get” and turns it upside down. Outside of the classroom students participate in work to gain a fundamental understanding of a concept wherein the classroom students engage in higher level thinking activities.

This method increases interactions between peers and teacher; however, students lose that initial face to face learning (Masland & Gizdarska, 2018; Johnston, 2017). Within this literature review, I will be just focusing on research done at the secondary and post-secondary level with flipped learning. What does flipped learning looks like, the theory behind it, the research to determine if this model increases academic success, and student perception of this teaching style will be the topics covered in this literature review.

What Does Flipped Learning Look Like?

Flipped learning or a flipped model is a teaching style where students spend their time out of class working independently to acquire foundational knowledge (McGivney-Burelle & Xue, 2013). Traditionally, flipped classrooms have enlisted just videos – either produced by the professor or found online, such as Khan Academy (Cabi, 2018). However, now flipped classrooms can include, but not limited to, videos, articles, and WebQuests. This allows content to be presented in a variety of formats (Johnston, 2017). By allowing students to watch videos on their own time students have the freedom to pick when they watch the video. Also, students are able to fast forward and rewind when they have either mastered the content or need more (Zhonggen & Guifang, 2016; Muir, 2016; Clark, 2015).

Within the classroom, the outcome of the instructor is to facilitate students through application-oriented activities that bring about higher level thinking. The teacher may need to take on the role of an observer allowing kids to collaborate and struggle, as well as taking an active role when students need assistance or intervention. Within a class period there would be a recall or check of students’ understanding. These checks, usually done at the beginning of class, can be done through a Kahoot, Clicker System Survey, or mini-quiz to gauge where students are at and allow the instructor to give feedback (McGivney-Burelle & Xue, 2013; Cabi, 2018; Zhonggen & Guifang, 2016).

Through these results, the teacher will ensure the needs of each student is met. This could be accomplished by answering questions that occurred while students were watching the video, working collaboratively in small groups, or providing interventions (McGivney-Burelle & Xue, 2013). To expand further, small group work could include real-life application, review, find the error problems, and other activities (Cabi, 2018). Within a flipped classroom teachers can optimized class time to target more individualize instruction to meet the needs of each student (Muir, 2016). For the student, this model of flipped learning requires them to assume more of an active and proactive role. They need to be constantly reflecting on their learning and advocating for themselves. Ultimately learning to be intellectual and independent members of the community (Clark, 2015; McGivney-Burelle & Xue, 2013).

Pedagogy of Flipped Learning

There are both advantages and disadvantages to flipped learning that need to be explored when determining how to meet the needs of the students. The flipped model can be very time consuming for educators. With recording videos, editing them, and finding appropriate videos and other sources takes time. In addition, developing activities that are worthwhile to bring about higher level thinking in class can be a challenge (Masland & Gizdarska, 2018). However, once past these obstacles teachers can find many benefits of a flipped classroom. Within a flipped model, students are thought to develop their higher level thinking skills.

Outside of the classroom students engage in lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy such as remembering and understanding, which allow time in class for more collaborative work applying, evaluating, analyzing, and creating the topic. This model allows a classroom to be discovery-based and student-centered that optimizes class time (Al Yousef et al., 2018; Masland & Gizdarska, 2018; Zhonggen & Guifang, 2016). Through this model, teachers are able to give instant feedback and able to differentiate through a variety of activities rather than spending time working through the notes or definitions. The activities that are done in class allow teachers to be a facilitator, a coach, or interventionist. (Muir, 2016; McGivney-Burelle & Xue, 2013; Petrillo, 2016).

Finally, this model allows students time to collaborate not only with their peers but also with their teacher or professor. Especially within a traditional math classroom, many students lose these opportunities (Zhonggen & Guifang, 2016; Muir, 2016). One of the goals of the flipped model is to transform students into successful members of technological heavy society (McGivney-Burelle & Xue, 2013).

Does Flipped Learning Increase Academic Performance?

Results on flipped learning are split. There is research supporting that flipped learning increases academic performance (McGivney-Burelle & Xue, 2013; Schroeder et al., 2015; Nielson et al., 2018; Petrillo, 2016; Zhonggen & Guifang, 2016). Whereas, other research concludes there is no significant difference for academic achievement between a flipped method and a traditional method (Cabi, 2018; Clark, 2015). One thing is for certain, no research has concluded that there is a negative impact linked with flipped learning and academic performance.

Significant Difference: Jean McGivney-Burelle has been involved in two different studies that explored the influences of flipped learning. The first study was to introduce a challenging chapter in Calculus II to undergraduate students. Each class ranging from twenty-five to thirty students. The results were compared to see if there was an increase in academic performance between the control group, which was the traditional teaching style, and treatment, which implemented a flipped learning method. At the chapter test, the control group scored a mean of 71.27 and a median of 73. Whereas, the flipped section scored a 76.48 as a mean and a median of 80 (McGivney-Burelle & Xue, 2013). This information called for a larger exploratory study done by Larissa B. Schroeder, Jean McGivney-Burelle & Fei Xue (2015), which included ten calculus undergraduate classes.

Five were flipped and five used the traditional method. After confirming both groups were equivalent through a Mann–Whitney test, the results showed that on the end of the year common exam students who were enrolled in the flipped class (mean 74.9) performed significantly better than their peers in a traditional lecture class (mean 69.2) with a p = 0.0496. Along with this academic success, only 25.7% (n=109) of the flipped sections got a D, F, or withdrawn from the class (p = 0.047) compared to 33.3% (n = 114) in the lecture sections. What was more impressive was this percentage was below the university average rate of 30% (p = 0.16). Although the flipped classroom may not have been the sole cause of this increase in academic performance, it certainly was a contributor. Not only was there academic success significant in Calculus I, but also in the following course Calculus II.

Although the Calculus II course was lecture-based, students who were enrolled in the flipped classroom in Calculus I class did significantly better than their peers who were in the traditional classroom for Calculus I (p = 0.0076) (Schroeder et al., 2015). These two studies highlighted the impact that flipped learning can have on academic achievement. Nielson et al. (2018) and Petrillo (2016) were two other studies done in the math realm that showed significant results with academic achievement and flipped learning. Neilson et al. (2018) uncovered that the version of the flipped classroom used in the study for the undergraduate Statistics classes had significant improvements on the students’ academic performance at a significance level of 0.01. This held true after controlling influences such as gender, math ACT scores, and instructor.

Petrillo (2016) performed a case study of undergraduate Calculus classes over three years to see the impact on academic achievement, the percentage of students who dropped the course, as well as the students opinions of Calculus. Of the 18 classes of Calculus offered, 16 of those were flipped sections. Petrillo (2016) concluded that there was an increase in the mean and median, while a decrease in the standard deviation on the common final exam. They saw a drop of 28% in failure rates in comparison to the lecture sections. Although no significance test were run there is a clear separation in academic success.

Other research within different content areas had similar results. Zhonggen & Guifang (2016) assumed a pretest – treatment – posttest design collecting both qualitative and quantitative data for an undergraduate English course. After administering the Business English writing test the flipped class mean score (76.43) was significantly larger than that of the traditional approach (m=74.17, t = 2.11, p =0.38)” (Zhonggen & Guifang, 2016). These findings supported McGivney-Burelle & Xue (2013) and Schroeder et al. (2015) that students can benefited academically from flipped learning.

Not Enough Evidence

Just as there is research to support that flipped learning has positive impacts on academic achievement, there is other research that cannot make the same claim. For example, in a mixed method study done in a language classroom Cabi (2018) had a control group as well as a treatment group to determine the effects of flipped learning on academic achievement. The results did not find a difference that was statistically significant between the two groups (Cabi, 2018). Clark (2015) found similar results that lead to the conclusion that academic achievement was not linked to the flipped model when working with Algebra I students on systems of equations and inequalities.

The students enrolled in the flipped model of instruction (M = 80.38, SD = 11.02) did not outperform those who were in the traditional classroom environment (M = 80, SD = 11.56); t(80) = 0.15, p = 0.44. The data was not significant enough to make any connections. Although, it was noted in this study that students who participated in the flipped model responded favorably to this method and stated an increase in their engagement, but no significant changes were observed in the academic performance. Clark (2015) even argued that the most effective method of teaching for some content may be the traditional approach. It was noted that the flipped model may be effective in other contents but was not the case in this Algebra I mixed-methods study (Clark, 2015).

Student Perception – “Then What Am I Paying You For”

Student perception is a big obstacle to overcome in order for a flipped classroom to be successful. In a mixed methods study conducted by Masland & Gizdarska, (2018) titled “Then What Am I Paying You For?” student perception of a flipped classroom was under review. The analysis was based on what course a student selected after reading short course descriptions. Out of 195 students 50.6% of the students chose the traditional classroom setting when the flipped classroom was described as watching short pre-recorded videos (1st Study). However, when the course description for a flipped classroom was changed to many “different mediums” such as pre-recorded videos, articles, research exploration, and others mediums only 32.4% of the students choose the traditional classroom, whereas 56.4% favored the flipped method (2nd Study).

So why this change?

Students who are in opposition of flipped learning often complain about lack of face to face time during the lesson, which students often blame for their confusion. Students argued that watching the videos are time-consuming and they do not have enough time to watch videos. Others students say they just say they prefer the traditional model where the teacher teaches in a lecture format (Johnston, 2017; Masland & Gizdarska, 2018; Cabi, 2018). From the research, students have difficulties or show resistance in adapting because it is a new approach.

However, if educators introduce this process of a flipped model earlier with easier contents it would encourage students with a positive experience (Clark, 2015). As we saw in Masland & Gizdarska’s (2018) first study there were students who thought they would simply learn more in the traditional lecture classroom. However, as we saw in the second study students were more inclined to enroll in the flipped classroom. The research indicates students enjoy coming to class prepared (Cabi ,2018). This motivates and gives them the confidence to do the work before class to remove any anxiety of uncertainty of what is going to happen the next day in class, especially when students have been absent (Muir, 2016).

Students indicated once in a flipped classroom they had gained more self-confidence and were more engaged in class (Cabi, 2018; Masland & Gizdarska, 2018). The freedom that the flipped model provides gives students choice and feeling they have autonomy of their learning (Zhonggen & Guifang, 2016). Within the English content, Zhonggen & Guifang (2016) identified through a pretest – treatment – posttest design the satisfaction of students achieved in the flipped classroom was significantly (p=0.003) higher than that of the traditional approach.

Now What?

Educators and researchers need to continue to explore flipped learning to see what impacts it has on academic achievement. In a growing technological world there will become more tools and strategies available that student can benefit from. Furthermore, we need to continue to foster a classroom environment that promotes higher level thinking, higher engagement, and utilizes a method that is current and relevant to our audience, the students. (McGivney-Burelle & Xue, 2013)

Cite this paper

Flipped Learning. (2021, Aug 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/flipped-learning/



What are some examples of flipped learning?
In a flipped learning model, students learn content online outside of class and then use class time to do activities such as practice, discussion, and projects.
What are the four pillars of flipped learning?
The four pillars of flipped learning are: 1) Students learn by doing, 2) Students learn by interacting with each other, 3) Students learn by being engaged and motivated, and 4) Students learn by receiving feedback.
What is a flipped classroom lesson?
A flipped classroom lesson is a type of lesson where students watch a video or read a lesson at home, and then do homework in class. This type of lesson is beneficial because it allows students to learn at their own pace and get one-on-one help from the teacher when they need it.
What is flipped and blended learning?
The flipped classroom is a form of blended learning which incorporates both face-to-face class time and web-based learning . The hallmark of blended learning is that the strengths of these two teaching/learning modalities are intentionally combined, resulting in a customised education experience.
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