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Student perceptions of the flipped classroom – new research

Anna PedrozaApr 08, '13

We’re always interested to hear about new research into flipped learning and we recently caught up with Graham Johnson, a high school teacher at Okanagan Mission Secondary in British Columbia, Canada. He’s just completed a Master of Arts in Educational Technology investigating student perceptions of the flipped classroom (congratulations Graham!).

Graham has been teaching maths for six years. Two years ago he decided to flip his classroom and, when he started his masters degree at the University of British Columbia it was an obvious topic to research for his thesis.
The research focused on what students feel about the flipped classroom and posed the following questions:

  • What are students’ perceptions of the flipped classroom?
  • Do students perceive that the flipped classroom supports their learning?
  • How could the flipped classroom be improved?

Graham surveyed students in three classes to gather research using an anonymous survey combining quantitative and qualitative questions. These included questions about mastery learning, time, self-pacing, social media and videos, and general flipped classroom questions.

Student enjoyment of the flipped classroom experience

The research supported the hypothesis that the majority of students enjoyed the flipped classroom experience. Each questionnaire item that examined student engagement and enjoyment showed positive responses. Only 7% would not recommend the flipped classroom to a friend. Only 8% felt the flipped classroom was less engaging than a more traditionally instructed classroom. The majority of students also responded positively that they liked the self-paced nature of the course.

Students’ perception of their learning

Most students responded positively that the flipped classroom supported their learning. Students found that they had further opportunities to:

  • Communicate with their classmates and teacher
  • Finish their homework in class
  • Engage in meaningful classroom activities.

Only 3% of the students believed their motivation had decreased and only 6% felt like their learning of maths had not improved because of the flipped classroom.

How could the flipped classroom be improved?

The research included three questions that asked students about flipped classroom improvements. There were some interesting points made:

  • More in class learning activities – Students responded that they would like to have additional in-class learning activities. They saw value in the activities that were currently being done in the flipped classroom but felt that these activities should be more frequent.
  • Changes to the assessment process – Students liked the self-pacing and mastery aspects that were ingrained in the assessment strategy, but felt that having more of the assessments as paper-and-pencil rather than computerized assessments. This allows them to better demonstrate their work and have a chance to receive partial credit where parts of an answer are correct.
  • Better videos – Students found that the videos could be improved. Better sound quality, more examples, and slower paced instruction were some of the most common responses. A number of students also suggested that the videos be created so that they were more interactive. Students offered suggestions for the videos including having interactive buttons throughout, embedded quizzes, a table of contents, and a glossary to create a more engaging experience for the user.

(Interestingly this final point about creating better videos is something we’re trying to help with here at the Flipped Institute.)

In his conclusion, Graham highlights that the flipped classroom should be viewed as a mindset rather than a pedagogy. He suggests that educators interested in trying to flip their class should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do you have enough time to do the things you want in class?
  • Do you spend a significant amount of time lecturing?
  • Are you struggling to meet the diverse needs of learners?

Graham recommends that if you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions that the flipped classroom may well offer a solution.
You can read the research in full here and find out more about Graham Johnson on his blog here or follow him on Twitter   @math_johnson.

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