Flipped Learning Part 3: Qualitative Considerations

Photo of a grid of post-it notes

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

By Kristen Mosley

In our final installment on flipped learning, we turn to a scoping review of studies examining this model’s use in post-secondary education1. Several questions guided this review, two of which are used to organize pertinent findings:

How are students engaged in the flipped classroom model?

For pre-class activities, instructors often used resources such as pre-recorded podcasts (audio-only lectures), vodcasts (video- and audio-based lectures), and screencasts (audio-based lectures with screen recording). The use of pre-readings, automated tutoring systems, and externally created videos (e.g., Khan Academy) were also mentioned, but with the University’s access to resources like Panopto, the use of instructor-created materials is preferred.

For in-class activities, case studies, group discussions, student presentations, and debates were commonly used to engage students, as well as think-pair-share (turn and talk to your neighbor, then share out to the class) and real-time quizzing and polling. The University’s partnerships with various polling technologies (e.g., Poll Everywhere) as well as OI2 developed tools (e.g., OI2 Chat App) can support in-class student engagement and provide ways to identify and address student misconceptions in real-time.

What considerations are there pertaining to implementing a flipped class?

As with any instructional change, the time required to rework aspects of your course(s) is often significant on the front-end. Implementing a flipped classroom can be similarly demanding at the onset, but the creation of pre-class (e.g., asynchronous) materials may ultimately save you preparation time in future semesters.

Instructors should also consider student buy-in as a key driver of the efficacy of this approach, particularly since the flipped classroom can sometimes present starkly different pre- and in-class learning experiences. Students may, at first, be surprised by the assignment of pre-class requirements beyond the usual textbook reading, but clear expectations (as always!) can ameliorate most frustrations2. For example, including the in-class discussion question(s) or debate topic(s) in the pre-class materials can help focus students’ pre-class engagement and bridge the gap between pre- and in-class learning.

Uncertainty may also arise when tackling a new instructional approach—particularly one in which the onus to learn is placed even more heavily on the student. Without a universal framework for implementing flipped learning, the process can be amorphous, and some critical elements can get lost along the way. While flexibility in approach may contribute to successful implementation (or perhaps even excitement), three core elements must be retained for fidelity: (1) clear expectations for students on what is required of them before and during class; (2) the use of pre-recorded lectures for pre-class learning; and (3) student-led, higher-order learning during in-class time.

As we close out this series on flipped learning, much information has been shared but many questions remain. Evidence regarding when and for whom this approach works best is presently unclear. Though prior research has explored this model across all levels of the undergraduate and graduate experience, large and small class sizes, and whole versus in-part flipped model classrooms (i.e., using a flipped model all semester vs. during a handful of classes), if and how you choose to incorporate flipped learning may depend on your teaching modality (i.e., in-person vs. hybrid) and your instructional planning bandwidth. Regardless, we’d love to support this or any instructional techniques you’re curious to try – just reach out!

1. O'Flaherty, J., & Phillips, C. (2015). The use of flipped classrooms in higher education: A scoping review. The internet and higher education25, 85-95.

2. Mason, G., Shuman, T., & Cook, K. (2013). Comparing the effectiveness of an inverted classroom to a traditional classroom in an upper-division engineering course. IEEE Transactions on Education, 56(4), 430–435.