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Research on flipped-learning – the concept where first exposure to new material is done outside of class while applied learning activities and higher-order thinking is conducted in class – is expanding at an incredible pace. The goal of this post is to give a qualitative overview of  what the current literature does and does not say about flipped learning. Much of this work will reference studies and literature reviews conducted by Robert Talbert at Grand Valley State University, a prominent scholar in the field [1,2] (also see Refs. [3] and [4] for more in-depth definitions of flipped learning). 

Flipped-learning research has grown by approximately 60% each year since 2012 [2]. Most of it is conducted by faculty members who are using flipped learning in their own teaching, which means that the research is never far removed from the actual classroom experience. However, it also means that the authors are often not specialized in educational research and that the scope of the research is usually limited. In addition, the success of the techniques is often determined by course/exam grades, which are not necessarily the best metrics of learning. The other common measure is student surveys designed by the researchers for a particular study. More use of validated survey instruments would be better, more consistent, metrics to implement moving forward.

So, what does the literature say? In general, students in flipped-learning environments achieve higher scores than students in traditional settings, or else the differences are not statistically significant. These two outcomes seem to be about equally as common. Only rarely do you see students in flipped learning environments perform significantly worse. One of the most consistent results in the literature is that flipped learning is strongly correlated with improved class-meeting attendance; however, data on whether students actually partake in the pre-class activities are mixed and vary widely. The literature also indicates that students tend to show higher satisfaction with flipped learning compared to traditional methods; however, these positive views only tend to sink in over time. Frequent and transparent communication with students seems to be critical with regards to this topic.

The literature, or lack of literature, does not indicate any significant effect of: whether the course being flipped is introductory vs. advanced, whether the course is undergraduate vs. graduate, whether the number of students is small vs. large, whether all of the course is flipped vs. only part of it, or whether videos are used vs. not.

As the use of, and research regarding flipped learning continues to grow, many of these questions will inevitably be answered to a fuller degree. This means that the literature on the subject up to this point should certainly not be viewed as conclusive. However, this short article serves as a convenient recap for those thinking about implementing such techniques in the semesters to come.

References

[1] Talbert, R. (2017). Flipped Learning : a Guide for Higher Education Faculty. Sterling, Virginia : Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2017.

[2] Talbert, R. (2018). What Does the Research Say About Flipped Learning. http://rtalbert.org/what-does-the-research-say/

[3] O’Flaherty, J., & Phillips, C. (2015). The use of flipped classrooms in higher education: A scoping review. Internet and Higher Education, 25, 85–95.

[4] Bishop, J., & Verleger, M. (2013). The Flipped Classroom : A Survey of the Research. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education, 6219.

Submitted by:

Carson Running

Ph.D. Candidate, Aerospace Engineering

University of Notre Dame

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