Student Views on the Use of a Flipped Classroom Approach: Evidence from Australia

By Butt, Adam | Business Education & Accreditation, January 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Student Views on the Use of a Flipped Classroom Approach: Evidence from Australia


Butt, Adam, Business Education & Accreditation


ABSTRACT

A report on an introduction of a "flipped classroom" approach to lectures in a final-year actuarial course is presented. At the heart of the flipped classroom is moving the "delivery" of material outside of formal class time and using formal class time for students to undertake collaborative and interactive activities relevant to that material. Students were surveyed both at the start and end of the semester to obtain their views on lectures in general and the flipped classroom structure. After experiencing the entire course with this teaching style, student views became, on average, far more positive towards the flipped classroom approach.

JEL: A22

KEYWORDS: Flipped Classroom, Inverted Classroom, Student Perceptions

INTRODUCTION

The face-to-face model of a number of lectures plus a single tutorial each week has been a standard approach to course delivery in higher education for decades. Despite the revolution that the internet has been to education in providing flexible access to course material, tradition dictates that a number of hours each week be set aside for formal lectures and tutorials.

The maintenance of the formal lecture and tutorial structure is despite significant evidence that the traditional lecture format is not the most effective way for most students to learn. One approach to a more active student experience is through a "flipped classroom" model (first introduced by Baker, 2000, and Lage et al., 2000, and popularized through online videos and activities by, among others, Karl Fisch, Jon Bergmann and the Khan Academy). At the heart of the flipped classroom is moving the "delivery" of material outside of formal class time (through the use of extensive notes, video recorded lectures and other appropriate means) and using formal class time for students to undertake collaborative and interactive activities relevant to that material.

This paper reports on a move to a flipped classroom approach in a compulsory final-year course in the undergraduate actuarial program at the Australian National University (ANU). There are two specific research questions of interest. First, do students value the traditional lecture format compared to other learning activities? This is a question that has been extensively researched in the literature, although in this case it will flow into a second and less well researched question, how do students' perceptions of the use of class time change after being involved in a flipped classroom structure? Both of these questions are answered through the use of a two-part survey taken of students in July and October of the 2012 edition of the course, which was the first time the flipped classroom approach had been used in the course.

The next section of the paper reviews relevant literature, in particular that on the use of the flipped classroom approach. Following that is a data and methodology section outlining the flipped classroom approach undertaken and the survey methodology used in answering the two research questions. Following that is the results of the analysis and then concluding comments.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Prince (2004) provides an overview of the literature on "active learning" and notes the difficulty in measuring its effectiveness due to the different definitions of and approaches to active learning across the literature. In its broadest sense, Prince (2004) describes active learning as requiring students "to do meaningful learning activities and think about what they are doing". These learning environments are "student-centred" in that it is through student activity with the guidance of the teacher that learning occurs. In general, Prince (2004) presents significant evidence of the benefits of active learning. There has been a wealth of research into student perceptions of didactic compared to active learning environments, in both discipline-specific and general higher education literature. In addition to the benefits of active learning described by Prince (2004), Baeten et al. …

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