The flipped classroom originated in Colorado when two Chemistry teachers, Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, started recording lectures for students to watch at home. They were driven to increase interaction with students when they seem to need it most, during homework. So, they flipped the traditional classroom structure; students watched the lecture at home and then completed homework under the guidance of their teacher during class. Bergmann and Sams reported increased assessment scores in the first year of its implementation1, and the model quickly became popular.
The flipped classroom of today looks vastly different from its initial form. Originally, class time was primarily used to complete homework assignments; however, more effective active learning practices tend to dominate class time in modern applications of the model. Although the flipped classroom has improved over the years, several challenges persist.
Akçayir and Akçayir recently reviewed 71 studies related to the advantages and disadvantages of the flipped classroom.2 Thirty-eight advantages (Table 1) and twenty-five challenges were identified (Table 2), and categorized by their reported frequency among the studies. We will examine the noteworthy advantages and challenges of the flipped classroom; however, to keep the discussion succinct, only those that were reported in at least 10% of the studies will be explored.
THE ADVANTAGES OF A FLIPPED CLASSROOM
1. Improved learning performance of students
More than half the examined studies (52%) reported improvements when measuring students’ GPAs, standardized test scores, and course grades. The researchers aren't sure why students show improvements in these areas; although, an increase in active learning instructional methods may be the answer. Active learning strategies improved learning outcomes in both traditional and flipped classrooms; however, it seems that more time is devoted to active learning activities in flipped compared to traditional classrooms.3
2. Flexible learning and Individualized learning
Flexibility was the second most reported advantage; next to the improved learning outcomes, it was reported by more than 20% of the studies. Closely related to flexibility, individualized learning was reported by 11%. Both teachers and students noted constant access to the course content as a notable aspect of course flexibility and individualization. Students like to be able to learn at their own pace - being able to pause, rewind and watch lectures over again. Additionally, teachers appreciate the online accessibility of the content for absent students.
3. Increased interactions
Increased students-students and student-teacher interaction (20%) was another positive characteristic reported about flipped classrooms. Since less time is spent lecturing, student-centered activities seem to be more frequent, as the teacher often takes the role of a “learning coach” rather than a lecturer. Learning activities like discussion, hands-on activities, and POGILs are collaborative and commonly employed in flipped classrooms.
4. Enhanced student satisfaction, engagement, and enjoyment
A respectable number of studies discovered improved student satisfaction (18%), student engagement (14%), and student enjoyment (11%) in a flipped classroom. Students seemed to enjoy the novelty of the format, and the flexibility to learn and review the material on their own time.4 Additionally, students valued the interactive and problem-based learning activities during normal class time.5
In general, advantages were more frequently reported than challenges, and students described positive attitudes towards flipped classrooms. However, challenges persist even as the technique has grown over the years.
THE CHALLENGES OF A FLIPPED CLASSROOM
1. Limited student preparation
Not surprisingly, one of the most frequently reported challenges was limited student preparation (13%). Some studies suggested that students’ are unaccustomed to this style of learning and need more training on how to use their pre-class time and course materials. In any sense, this is a considerable issue since the rest of the classroom activities tend to hinge on out-of-class preparation.
2. More time and work for students
Some students reported that the flipped classroom requires more time (11%) and work (10%) than a traditional classroom structure. Studying lectures outside of class may require more mental engagement than would be required with traditional homework, and students may not have developed this level of attention. One study even found that some students acquired passive learning habits from a traditional classroom, and had difficulty adjusting to the increased engagement of the flipped classroom.6 Although most students have positive attitudes towards the flipped classroom, the amount of time and work was their most common negative feedback.
3. Inability to get immediate help/feedback
An additional pedagogical challenge was students’ inability to ask questions and get immediate feedback while watching video tutorials (10%). Although students are often instructed to rewatch parts of the video that they did not understand, misconceptions may become deeply rooted before the instructor can correct them.
4. Poor quality video content
The flipped classroom model relies on high-quality out-of-class material; however, 13% of studies reported that the teacher produced video lectures had poor technological and pedagogical elements, making it difficult to learn. As an example, one study found that videos with poor audio quality harmed student learning. And, in another study, tedious videos that exceed the length of students’ attention span were not likely viewed to completion.7
5. More time for teachers
The most-reported challenge from the teachers’ perspective was that the flipped classroom requires more of their time (14%) than a traditional classroom. For instance, one study found that the flipped classroom material could take nearly six times more time to prepare compared to a traditional course.8
In most cases, the advantages seem to outweigh the challenges in the flipped classroom; however, lingering challenges may prevent future instructors from implementing a flipped classroom in their own course. Fortunately, a few recent studies have focused on overcoming these limitations, and they will be explored in the next post.
- Bergmann, Jonathan, and Aaron Sams. Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. International society for technology in education, 2012.
- Akçayır, G., & Akçayır, M. (2018). The flipped classroom: A review of its advantages and challenges. Computers & Education, 126, 334-345.
- Eichler, J. F., & Peeples, J. (2016). Flipped classroom modules for large enrollment general chemistry courses: a low barrier approach to increase active learning and improve student grades. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 17(1), 197-208.
- Al‐Zahrani, A. M. (2015). From passive to active: The impact of the flipped classroom through social learning platforms on higher education students' creative thinking. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(6), 1133-1148.
- Bösner, S., Pickert, J., & Stibane, T. (2015). Teaching differential diagnosis in primary care using an inverted classroom approach: student satisfaction and gain in skills and knowledge. BMC medical education, 15(1), 63.
- Chen, Y., Wang, Y., & Chen, N. S. (2014). Is FLIP enough? Or should we use the FLIPPED model instead?. Computers & Education, 79, 16-27.
- He, W., Holton, A., Farkas, G., & Warschauer, M. (2016). The effects of flipped instruction on out-of-class study time, exam performance, and student perceptions. Learning and Instruction, 45, 61-71.
- Wanner, T., & Palmer, E. (2015). Personalising learning: Exploring student and teacher perceptions about flexible learning and assessment in a flipped university course. Computers & Education, 88, 354-369.
Editor's Note: Follow the link if you are interested in Josh's other posts about the flipped classroom.