Academic journal article Journal of Distance Education (Online)

An Investigation into Effective Pedagogies in a Flipped Classroom: A Case Study

Academic journal article Journal of Distance Education (Online)

An Investigation into Effective Pedagogies in a Flipped Classroom: A Case Study

Article excerpt


Higher education institutions are facing a great deal of scrutiny for their failure to adequately educate students (McLaughlin et al., 2014). Research indicates that higher education institutions have not been able to fulfill their role in fostering critical thinking, effective interpersonal skills, or reasoning skills-the core competencies intended to be instilled in students (Arum, Cho, Kim, & Roksa, 2012). Instead, students are too often disengaged or distracted and seemingly lacking in motivation (Abeysekera & Dawson, 2015; Bonk & Khoo, 2014).

While new models and pedagogical approaches surrounding the use of online learning technology have emerged during the past two decades, little has changed in the structure of education (Bonk & Khoo, 2014; Bonk & Zhang, 2008). Face-to-face lectures continue to prevail in a large proportion of classrooms in the United States (Prober & Heath, 2012). Unfortunately, findings from research on student attention indicate that the average attention span of a student is less than 20 minutes, which results in reduced engagement and interactions, and, in effect, highly ineffective use of time for learning (Stuart & Rutherford, 1978). The prevailing passive learning model-centered on teacher-directed activities and decisions-deprives students of sound educational experiences.

Among the key concerns in higher education today is that instructors are not tapping into the digital learning approaches of their students and they seem in no rush to do so (Schaffhauser, 2016). Suffice to say, there are many challenges that instructors face in motivating adult learners in this new age of digital learning (Kim, 2009; Kim & Frick, 2011). In the midst of such ongoing concerns and calls for change within higher education instructional practices, several potential solutions have been offered including the implementation of the flipped classroom model (Khan, 2012; Strayer, 2007).

A growing body of literature suggests that flipping the classroom can be a viable alternative to facilitating an active learning classroom. In a flipped classroom, students enjoy offloaded content at their own pace while class time is dedicated to participating in learner-centered activities, such as group projects, discussions, or problem-solving, which are developed grounded on an inquiry-based learning approach (Bergmann & Sams, 2012). Instructors play the role more of a "guide on the side" rather than "sage on the stage," serving as coach, facilitator, or mentor. In this context, their duties center on guiding students in solving problems and helping them engage with peers (Reigeluth, 2012). With the flipped classroom concept receiving attention in recent years, research is needed to better understand effective, efficient, and acceptable pedagogical strategies in this new classroom environment. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, we intend to explore types of learning activities in the classroom time of a flipped classroom; and second, to identify activities that are perceived by students and faculty to be effective in the achievement of desired course competencies. This exploratory research is guided by the following two research questions:

1. What instructional activities were facilitated in the lab sessions?

2. Were the instructional activities helpful for students to achieve the course competencies?

Literature Review

Theoretical Framework

A fundamental premise of the flipped classroom is that migration of lecture materials and learner-to-content interaction to a digital online delivery format creates opportunities for learning through socially constructed face-to-face instructional events (Tucker, 2012). Theoretical justification for the flipped classroom as an effective approach to instruction requires a review of student-centered theories. As noted by Bishop and Verleger (2013), theories supporting flipped classroom practices revolve around the missed opportunities of more traditional instructor-centered classroom models (Pluta, Richards, & Mutnick, 2013). …

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