Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Exploring Flipped Classroom Effects on Second Language Learners’ Cognitive Processing

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Exploring Flipped Classroom Effects on Second Language Learners’ Cognitive Processing

Article excerpt


Besides using a second language (L2) proficiently, international students who enroll in postsecondary programs of study are expected to skillfully process information, analyze and evaluate it, judge its validity and value, and use it to solve problems. However, it has been reported that L2 speakers often find this to be challenging (Jones, 2005) because processing L2 content knowledge in the L2 consumes more cognitive capacity than processing content in a first language (L1), leaving less room for skillful, higher-order thinking. In contrast to traditional classrooms in which new concepts are learned in class and practiced as homework, flipped classrooms utilize a form of blended learning that offers learners private time and space to learn content and organize their thoughts prior to class. For L2 learners, having time to acquire content knowledge at their own pace outside of class may free up cognitive capacity during class, enabling them to engage in more skillful, concise, and cohesive thinking and may thus facilitate participation in complex inclass activities. The cognitive benefits, then, of a flipped instructional model could be expected to affect how well L2 learners process information, understand content, and organize their thoughts in their L2.

The purpose of this study was to examine the pedagogical effectiveness of flipped classrooms for L2 learners, specifically in a content-based classroom where content knowledge was solely taught in the L2 (Korean). In order to investigate the benefits of flipped classrooms over traditional classrooms for Korean L2 learners' cognition and thinking processes, the study compared participation rates, the content of learners' comments, the types of reasoning skills they displayed, and interactional patterns across flipped and traditional class formats.

Literature Review

The Flipped Classroom: Definitions, Theoretical Relevance, and Previous Findings

The flipped classroom is a pedagogical strategy that reverses the traditional classroom process by delivering the instructional content usually, but not always, online before class and then engaging learners in interactive group learning and/or critical problemsolving activities that are carried out under the teacher's guidance during class (Bergmann & Sams, 2012; Bishop & Verleger, 2013; Herreid & Schiller, 2013). Recently, the development of educational technology has allowed flipped classrooms to be easily adopted in K-12 and higher education contexts (Hamdan, McKnight, McKnight, & Arfstrom, 2013).

This learning environment can be characterized as student-centered-students are expected to come to class having already gained the knowledge necessary to actively engage in problem-solving activities with their peers. Throughout the cycle of instruction, they maintain an active role at the center of learning. The practice is based on the assumptions that meaningful interaction among peers encourages knowledge building and that teachers can provide more timely and personalized guidance and feedback during in-class activities. The pedagogical relevance of the flipped classroom is supported by a range of student-centered learning theories in the field of educational psychology (Bishop & Verleger, 2013), including cooperative learning (Johnson, 1984; Ormrod, 1995; Rottier & Ogan, 1991; Sharan, 1990; Slavin, 1991), collaborative learning (Goodsell, Maher, Tinto, Smith, & MacGregor, 1992), peer tutoring (Gartner, Kohler, & Reissman, 1971; Tabacek, McLaughlin, & Howard, 1994), peerassisted learning (Topping & Ehly, 1998), problem-based learning (Barrows, 1996), and active learning (Michael, 2006; Prince, 2004). Similar to Vygotsky's (1978) sociocultural theory, which describes humans as active participants in their own learning and social interaction as crucial in the process of learning, these theories commonly view learning as the outcome of joint cognitive activity in which students take an active part (Foot & Howe, 1998). …

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