“Many and Sams, 2012). In traditional setting, students

“Many struggling
students who genuinely want to learn fall behind instead. Others are so busy
that 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.

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The flipped classroom is a relatively new teaching
approach that stems from its role in addressing the learning needs of students
and involves flipping the traditional model of classroom instruction (Alvarez,
2012; Bergmann and Sams, 2012). In traditional setting, students spend class
time listening to lectures and, if time permits, they work on examples of the
newly presented concept. This traditional approach to instruction is being
revamped and alternative methods are being considered to keep students motivated
and engaged in their learning (Fulton, 2012a). The flipped classroom is one
suggested alternative to the traditional classroom setting. This instructional
model integrates digital technology within the curriculum, provides students
with differentiated instruction and enables the educator to take a role of
facilitator in the classroom (Overmyer, 2012). Although the concept of flipped
learning has existed for several years (Baker, 2000), the model has been
popularised by chemistry teachers Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams (Bergmann and
Sams 2012b) and the founder of the Khan Academy, Salman Khan (Khan, 2011).

Teachers who flip their classroom instructions allow students to play an active
role in their learning. When students take an active role by interacting with
their teacher and discussing ideas with peers, they are learning socially
(Vygotsky, 1978; Mazur, 1997).

 

The flipped classroom is increasingly discussed as an
instructional strategy to improve students’ grades and attitudes towards
learning (Pilgrim, Bledsoe and Reily, 2012). The use of digital technology is
also timely for the new generation, and, as more educators seek to improve the
value and quality of their class time for 21st century learners, the
flipped model provides a guide for successful courses of action (Fulton, 2012b;
Overmyer 2012). Although the flipped classroom does not provide all the
solutions for the limitations of the traditional classroom, the approach allows
students to move at their own pace and advocate for their needs. Studies have
shown that when classrooms are flipped, student-student interactions and
teacher-student interactions increase, student learning deepens, and academic
performance increases (Fulton, 2012b). When the flipped classroom was first
introduced at the Woodland Park High School (Colorado), videos made by the
teachers were used to disseminate the content to students who were missing many
end of day classes because of extracurricular activities (Bergmann and Sams,
2012). With the rise of online technology, educators are now creating digital
media to teach their students and enhance student learning experience.

 

Student
performance in the K-12 education

Teachers
across the U.S. have reported academic success in their flipped classrooms. The
Clintondale High School in the suburb of Detroit saw remarkable results after
introducing the flipped format into its curriculum; students’ academic
performance increased in exams and failure rates dropped in maths and English
(Fulton, 2012b). Teachers at the Byron High School, Minnesota, began to flip
their classrooms in mathematics in autumn 2010. In addition to spending class
time on individual assignments, the Byron High School used peer instruction
where students answered questions individually and then worked in groups. As a
result, students’ scores and mastery rates rose dramatically (Fulton, 2012b).

At the present time, the innovation has spread to all maths courses at Byron
High and one 8th-grade mathematics teacher has joined the high school teachers
in the reform process to implement flipped classes in middle school (Fulton,
2012a). Students in K-12 flipped classrooms have generally achieved higher
academic performance, or at least performed equally, compared to traditional
classrooms (Lo and Hew, 2017). Elsewhere, low achievers in English and ICT were
able 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 flipped
format on achievement over one month in 7th grade maths class. Scores have also
been shown to increase in flipped classrooms across various ethnic
sub-populations of 8th grade students in maths (Martin, Arrambide and Holt,
2016). Finally, flipped learning improved students’ performance in grade-6
computer science class when there were greater opportunities for students to
engage in the discussion of higher-level problems (Tsai, Shen and Lu, 2015).

 

Classroom time
in flipped lessons is used for students to collaborate as teachers facilitate
learning (Lage, Platt and Treglia,
2000; Crouch and Mazur, 2001).

Students in 8th grade were able to appreciate the classroom time because they
felt prepared and were given either individual attention by their teacher or
given tasks that challenged their understanding (Coufal, 2014). Flipped learning also increased motivation of 6th
graders in social studies class (Winter, 2017). Active learning engages
students in the process of learning through activities and discussion in class,
in opposition to passively listening to an expert; it emphasises higher-order
thinking and often involves group work. Student collaborations in the classroom, coupled with the
implementation of digital technology, can move towards a powerful culture of
social learning. Youth in today’s society are often called ‘digital natives’
because they have always lived in a world where digital technologies have
existed. However, scholars in the UK have not called for a revamping of the traditional lecture teaching
style and for educators to adopt a more facilitative approach to learning,
which integrates some form of technology.

 

Challenges of
the flipped classroom

In spite of the benefits of the flipped learning approach, many
educators see obstacles to creating classrooms dedicated to inquiry-based
learning. Whilst the first-order barriers are being resolved with school and
government initiatives, second-order barriers will need the rethinking of
teachers’ capacity building in terms of professional development (Wang, 2017). The incorporation of
time-saving technology is a recurrent theme in the literature surrounding the
application of the flipped model (Lo and Hew, 2017). Kirvan, Rakes
and Zamora
(2015) overcame the challenge of teaching their 7th- and 8th-grade students how
to learn through the flipped classroom by preparing them gradually before full
implementation of their flipped classroom; a first step was students viewing
video lectures during class time. Preparing flipped learning materials often
requires considerable start-up effort (Kirvan, Rakes and Zamora, 2015). However, the ever-growing collection of online
content creation, collaborations and distribution tools give educators an accessible toolkit
for 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 after
flipping courses (Kirvan, Rakes and Zamora, 2015). It has been suggested that
the absence of significant results may come from the implementation of the
model, as proper application – quality videos and active learning during in-class
time – is fundamental to its success (Bormann, 2014).

 

Summary

In
this study, the flipped classroom model is used to determine its effect on
student academic performance in KS3 science. As most studies have focused on
maths, this study will add to the body of literature in science education
whilst simultaneously attempting to address students’ accountability and
progress. The flipped format allows digital technology to be implemented in the
classroom, allows students to think critically and promotes class discussions.

In turn, student academic achievements are expected to improve (Bergmann and
Sams, 2012a; Fulton, 2012b). Many studies
have compared student performance in flipped classroom with its traditional
counterpart, but few of them have compared performance of the same cohort (Clark,
2015). In the present study, assessment scores will be compared for students of
the same class, providing a historical control. In the UK, there is a
serious shortage of home-grown STEM graduates, creating a worrying skills gap.

40,000 additional STEM graduates will be needed each year to fill the 104,000
graduate-level jobs our economy needs (Broughton, 2013). Presumably, early
exposure to technology will engage students as they are introduced to critical
thinking, communication skills and collaboration so that they may function in a
globally competitive society as adults. Paradoxically, there is a continued narrowing of the science curriculum in primary
schools (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 these
subjects.