Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Flipped @ SBU: Student Satisfaction and the College Classroom

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Flipped @ SBU: Student Satisfaction and the College Classroom

Article excerpt


In this paper, the authors find empirical support for the effectiveness of the flipped classroom model. Using a quasi-experimental method, the authors compared students enrolled in flipped courses to their counterparts in more traditional lecture-based ones. A survey instrument was constructed to study how these two different groups of students varied in terms of student engagement, student satisfaction, and academic performance. Overall, we found that high levels of student engagement and course satisfaction characterized the students in the flipped courses, without any observable reduction in academic performance.


While flipped courses may sometimes be thought of as exotic, atypical, or even gimmicky, they are certainly not new. In the early 19th century, General Sylvanus Thayer created a system at West Point where engineering students, given a set of materials, were responsible for obtaining core content prior to coming to class. The classroom space was then used for critical thinking and group problem solving. This approach to teaching assumes that, regardless of discipline, good teaching should always limit the passive transfer of knowledge in class while also promoting learning environments built on the tenants of student inquiry, collaboration and critical thinking (Musallam, 2011).

Recently, there have been opinions that flipped classrooms are an improvement to education, often citing increased levels of student engagement and teacher efficacy as the primary reasons. Thanks to the financial and technical support of our institution, the authors had the opportunity to teach flipped courses in three different disciplines during the fall of 2014. When preparing these courses, it was common to hear other instructors insist that flipped classes increase student engagement primarily at the expense of student performance, reducing the overall academic quality of the course. Others commented that only the most technologysavvy instructors would be able to effectively flip their courses, adding that doing so required an excessively high investment of time and energy from the instructors.

We found that flipped courses did not require sophisticated technological expertise in order to implement. Additionally, the authors observed high student engagement levels and strong course satisfaction without any negative impact on academic performance. While teacher preparation time levels were increased, these courses were still highly regarded by the teachers. Likewise, flipped classes were strongly approved of by students, where high levels of student engagement were the central component to overall course success.

The Importance of Student Engagement

Student engagement, both within and external to the classroom, is being increasingly recognized as a crucial element in student success. Purposeful engagement, as defined by Harper and Quaye (2009) involves the active participation of the student in activities, as opposed to their passive involvement. The NSSE, or National Survey of Student Engagement, is a widely distributed instrument used to benchmark effective engagement practices at higher education institutions (Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, & Whitt, 2005). Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie, and Gonyea (2008) analyzed the results of the NSSE and found that the level of student engagement had a positive, statistically significant effect on performance. As such, institutions continue to seek methods by which to increase levels of student engagement, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Flipped Course Instruction

In an effort to intensify student engagement, some higher education instructors are employing active learning methodologies, which are used to increase student involvement in the learning process (Cavalli, Neubert, McNally, & Jacklitch-Kuiken, 2014). For example, one method used to free up class time for active learning involves moving a portion or the entire lecture outside of the classroom (Bretzmann, 2013; Cavalli et al. …

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