“Many strugglingstudents who genuinely want to learn fall behind instead. Others are so busythat they miss out on key concepts. Still others learn how to ‘play school’,but never really learn important objectives in their courses.” – Bergmann and Sams, Flip Your Classroom. The flipped classroom is a relatively new teachingapproach that stems from its role in addressing the learning needs of studentsand involves flipping the traditional model of classroom instruction (Alvarez,2012; Bergmann and Sams, 2012).
In traditional setting, students spend classtime listening to lectures and, if time permits, they work on examples of thenewly presented concept. This traditional approach to instruction is beingrevamped and alternative methods are being considered to keep students motivatedand engaged in their learning (Fulton, 2012a). The flipped classroom is onesuggested alternative to the traditional classroom setting. This instructionalmodel integrates digital technology within the curriculum, provides studentswith differentiated instruction and enables the educator to take a role offacilitator in the classroom (Overmyer, 2012). Although the concept of flippedlearning has existed for several years (Baker, 2000), the model has beenpopularised by chemistry teachers Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams (Bergmann andSams 2012b) and the founder of the Khan Academy, Salman Khan (Khan, 2011).Teachers who flip their classroom instructions allow students to play an activerole in their learning. When students take an active role by interacting withtheir teacher and discussing ideas with peers, they are learning socially(Vygotsky, 1978; Mazur, 1997). The flipped classroom is increasingly discussed as aninstructional strategy to improve students’ grades and attitudes towardslearning (Pilgrim, Bledsoe and Reily, 2012).
The use of digital technology isalso timely for the new generation, and, as more educators seek to improve thevalue and quality of their class time for 21st century learners, theflipped model provides a guide for successful courses of action (Fulton, 2012b;Overmyer 2012). Although the flipped classroom does not provide all thesolutions for the limitations of the traditional classroom, the approach allowsstudents to move at their own pace and advocate for their needs. Studies haveshown that when classrooms are flipped, student-student interactions andteacher-student interactions increase, student learning deepens, and academicperformance increases (Fulton, 2012b). When the flipped classroom was firstintroduced at the Woodland Park High School (Colorado), videos made by theteachers were used to disseminate the content to students who were missing manyend of day classes because of extracurricular activities (Bergmann and Sams,2012). With the rise of online technology, educators are now creating digitalmedia to teach their students and enhance student learning experience. Studentperformance in the K-12 educationTeachersacross the U.
S. have reported academic success in their flipped classrooms. TheClintondale High School in the suburb of Detroit saw remarkable results afterintroducing the flipped format into its curriculum; students’ academicperformance increased in exams and failure rates dropped in maths and English(Fulton, 2012b). Teachers at the Byron High School, Minnesota, began to fliptheir classrooms in mathematics in autumn 2010. In addition to spending classtime on individual assignments, the Byron High School used peer instructionwhere students answered questions individually and then worked in groups.
As aresult, students’ scores and mastery rates rose dramatically (Fulton, 2012b).At the present time, the innovation has spread to all maths courses at ByronHigh and one 8th-grade mathematics teacher has joined the high school teachersin the reform process to implement flipped classes in middle school (Fulton,2012a). Students in K-12 flipped classrooms have generally achieved higheracademic performance, or at least performed equally, compared to traditionalclassrooms (Lo and Hew, 2017). Elsewhere, low achievers in English and ICT wereable to progress significantly in the flipped setting (Huang and Hong, 2016).To date, very few studies have published quantitative data for middle school(11-14 years old). Heo and Choi (2014) found a positive effect of the flippedformat on achievement over one month in 7th grade maths class. Scores have alsobeen shown to increase in flipped classrooms across various ethnicsub-populations of 8th grade students in maths (Martin, Arrambide and Holt,2016).
Finally, flipped learning improved students’ performance in grade-6computer science class when there were greater opportunities for students toengage in the discussion of higher-level problems (Tsai, Shen and Lu, 2015). Classroom timein flipped lessons is used for students to collaborate as teachers facilitatelearning (Lage, Platt and Treglia,2000; Crouch and Mazur, 2001).Students in 8th grade were able to appreciate the classroom time because theyfelt prepared and were given either individual attention by their teacher orgiven tasks that challenged their understanding (Coufal, 2014). Flipped learning also increased motivation of 6thgraders in social studies class (Winter, 2017). Active learning engagesstudents in the process of learning through activities and discussion in class,in opposition to passively listening to an expert; it emphasises higher-orderthinking and often involves group work. Student collaborations in the classroom, coupled with theimplementation of digital technology, can move towards a powerful culture ofsocial learning. Youth in today’s society are often called ‘digital natives’because they have always lived in a world where digital technologies haveexisted.
However, scholars in the UK have not called for a revamping of the traditional lecture teachingstyle and for educators to adopt a more facilitative approach to learning,which integrates some form of technology. Challenges ofthe flipped classroomIn spite of the benefits of the flipped learning approach, manyeducators see obstacles to creating classrooms dedicated to inquiry-basedlearning. Whilst the first-order barriers are being resolved with school andgovernment initiatives, second-order barriers will need the rethinking ofteachers’ capacity building in terms of professional development (Wang, 2017). The incorporation oftime-saving technology is a recurrent theme in the literature surrounding theapplication of the flipped model (Lo and Hew, 2017). Kirvan, Rakesand Zamora(2015) overcame the challenge of teaching their 7th- and 8th-grade students howto learn through the flipped classroom by preparing them gradually before fullimplementation of their flipped classroom; a first step was students viewingvideo lectures during class time. Preparing flipped learning materials oftenrequires considerable start-up effort (Kirvan, Rakes and Zamora, 2015). However, the ever-growing collection of onlinecontent creation, collaborations and distribution tools give educators an accessible toolkitfor delivering flipped learning, even when limited technology is available(Bergmann, 2016). Despite the best efforts at transforming learning experience,schools have not always seen a substantial difference in test scores afterflipping courses (Kirvan, Rakes and Zamora, 2015).
It has been suggested thatthe absence of significant results may come from the implementation of themodel, as proper application – quality videos and active learning during in-classtime – is fundamental to its success (Bormann, 2014). SummaryInthis study, the flipped classroom model is used to determine its effect onstudent academic performance in KS3 science. As most studies have focused onmaths, this study will add to the body of literature in science educationwhilst simultaneously attempting to address students’ accountability andprogress. The flipped format allows digital technology to be implemented in theclassroom, allows students to think critically and promotes class discussions.In turn, student academic achievements are expected to improve (Bergmann andSams, 2012a; Fulton, 2012b). Many studieshave compared student performance in flipped classroom with its traditionalcounterpart, but few of them have compared performance of the same cohort (Clark,2015).
In the present study, assessment scores will be compared for students ofthe same class, providing a historical control. In the UK, there is aserious shortage of home-grown STEM graduates, creating a worrying skills gap.40,000 additional STEM graduates will be needed each year to fill the 104,000graduate-level jobs our economy needs (Broughton, 2013).
Presumably, earlyexposure to technology will engage students as they are introduced to criticalthinking, communication skills and collaboration so that they may function in aglobally competitive society as adults. Paradoxically, there is a continued narrowing of the science curriculum in primaryschools (Diver, 2018) and no strategic plan for schools to integrate some form of technology.Whilst, there is much debate on whether flipped learning works (Hazell, 2017),the need for more systematic tests on these new pedagogical strategies has been stressed – outcomes may outlast the study tests (Stannard,2017) and inspire students to take up thesesubjects.