Students are satisfied with flipped classroom when they have systematic guidance on the teaching approach in use, comprehensive understanding of both the content being taught and the discipline more generally, and a safe learning atmosphere conducive to conversation. Teachers also need to pay attention to the students’ technological skills and their own contact teaching skills, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland.
In traditional higher education teaching, the student attends a lecture where the teacher gives an oral presentation to teach about a particular subject. After the lecture, the student goes home to complete the assignments given by the teacher and reads the study materials to get ready for an exam. In flipping, i.e., the flipped classroom approach, it is the other way round. The principle in implementing the flipped classroom model is to give the student pre-class materials, which the student independently goes through in the requested manner, and deeper learning on the content is then achieved collaboratively in class with the teacher and fellow students.
Flipping has become increasingly popular internationally in recent years and the learning outcomes, while partly contradictory, have been good. Growing popularity has also led to more research on flipping, however, this is the first time that the success of the flipped classroom approach has been studied from the perspective of student satisfaction. The study involved more than 400 Finnish higher education students.
“Our study showed that it is highly important to explain the approach in use to the students at the beginning of the course. In other words, they need information on the teaching method, the study method and the intended learning outcomes. Another important factor is to guide the students in managing their time and to promote self-regulation,” says Erkko Sointu, Professor of Special Education at the University of Eastern Finland and the lead author of the study published by an international team of researchers.
The students also need concrete evidence of the theories drawn from their discipline.
“The teacher should also take into account the technological skills of their students. One of the key factors in contact teaching is to create a safe atmosphere for the students to ask things, question the contents discussed and find explanations during the class collaboratively with their teacher and fellow students,” Sointu says.
Tips for successful teaching in the post-COVID-19 era
Though the research data was compiled during the academic year 2016–2017, the findings are highly relevant in our current situation. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised discussion on the challenges of distance learning and studying remotely, including the teachers and students getting tired of working alone. There is a lot of debate on the pros and cons of returning to “normal education”.
“We have seen the first real step towards blended teaching and learning during the time of the coronavirus pandemic. A better understanding of flipping and its key factors gained through our study provides teachers with the tools they need to successfully implement contact, distance and hybrid teaching.”
By taking account of the key factors, teachers are able to support the learning and well-being of students and apply the best practices of distance and contact teaching.
“My colleagues and I have started referring to flipping as cherry-picking as, rather than sitting in lectures listening to the teacher’s monologues, the flipped classroom approach gives students the opportunity to time- and place-independent study, to prepare for contact teaching using pre-class materials and technology, and then to deepen their knowledge in class.”
Research article (open access):
Sointu, E., Hyypiä, M., Lambert, M. C., Hirsto, L., Saarelainen, M. & Valtonen, T.: Preliminary evidence of key factors in successful flipping: predicting positive student experiences in flipped classrooms. Higher Education. The International Journal of Higher Education Research, julkaistu 8.4.2022. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10734-022-00848-2