The potentials of “Flipped Classroom” in Higher Education

Teaching in bilingual curricula under a CLIL approach poses a challenge to instructional design, as it is necessary to integrate content learning with instructional language practice. To implement this design it is essential that students come to class with due preparation (linguistic micro-skills, specific terminology, familiarity with concepts, etc.) through a previous first contact to assign self-study material and activities. This allows different ways to interact with contents, instruction language, peers and instructor during Face2Face periods. An instructional technique that fits well to these requirements is the so-called “Flipped” (or inverted) “Classroom”. Students watch videos outside the classroom to have their first contact with course materials, and then answer on-line questionnaires related to the content and procedures in order to aid in-class performance and detect major comprehension problems. Face2Face time can then be devoted to active and collaborative learning, thus creating for students learning experiences where they use academic and subject-specific language. Recent evidence-based research (Deslauriers, Schelew & Wieman, 2011;Bates & Galloway, 2012 and Bishop& Verleger, 2013) back the use of this educational design in Higher Education.

This paper aims to discuss the impact on promoting student satisfaction and improving their involvement in their own learning when applying a “Flipped classroom” design in a first-year bilingual, English-taught module in a non-English-speaking country. “World Economy” is taught in the Faculty of Business and Economics at a traditional, F2F Spanish publicly-funded institution, the University of Oviedo (Spain). It is a bilingual module, where English is the medium of instruction and evaluation to a cohort of Spanish-speaking  freshers. The design targets module contents, skills practice and improvement of students’ linguistic skills. During 2013-14, the instructional designers implemented a “Flipped Classroom” design for this module: content delivery through videos in English of the different module topics, pre-class questionnaires answered through the University VLE, instructor mediation between students and content through mini-lectures and Just-in-Time Teaching, student-centered active learning approach for in-class sessions, and individual practice combined with peer-instruction mediated by the instructor.

To measure students’ satisfaction, the researchers used an adapted questionnaire from Johnson (2013) with 12 likert-scale questions (to measure 4 aspects: “Flipped classroom” general elements; time, self-regulated learning and technology disposition) 1 likert-scale question (to assess the usefulness of in-class activities), and 4 open questions.

The research questions are the following:

  • To what extent Students react positively to general elements of “Flipped classroom”, specially motivation to learning and communication progress
  • To what extent this learning experience improves students’ willingness to get involved in using technology for learning
  • To what extent students appreciate the possibilities of self-regulated learning the design offers
  • To what extent students appreciate the usefulness of active learning in Face2Face interactions

The research methodology used to measure students’ satisfaction and contrast these hypotheses is a quantitative and qualitative analysis of students answers. The general conclusion is the positive attitude the students show towards this blended design, especially to the motivational power of using technology and the practical implications of some aspects of active learning.

Bibliography

Bates, S., & Galloway, R. (2012).The inverted classroom in a large enrollment introductory physics course: a case study. The Higher Education Academy.

Bishop, J. L., & Verleger, M. A. (2013). The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. Paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education, Atlanta, GA.

Deslauriers, L., Schelew, E., & Wieman, C. (2011). Improved learning in a large-enrollment physics class. Science, 332(6031), 862-864.

Johnson, G.B. (2013). Student perceptions of the Flipped Classroom. Master of Arts Thesis for the College of Graduate Studies: Educational Technology, University of British Columbia, January 2013.

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