Traditionally, class time was devoted to content delivery, mostly through lectures, while the application of the newly acquired knowledge was delegated to homework assignments. For some time now, the modern approach to teaching and learning has led to the generalization of more active and student-centered models, including "flipped" classes where “students study instructional material before class and apply this material during class” (all quotes are from the original article cited below.)
There are several reasons to believe that inverting the learning environment in this way may be more effective:
For these four reasons, inverting the traditional learning model should be more efficient. But is it so? To test this hypothesis, a team of researchers recently conducted an extensive meta-analysis, synthesizing the findings of 114 studies comparing flipped and non-flipped classes in secondary and postsecondary education.
Overall, the review found a “small positive effect on learning outcomes.” More precisely, the effect size was 0.36, which means that the average performance of a student in a flipped class was 0.36 standard deviations above the average student in a traditional class. For instance, in a class where the average semester grade is 75% and where the average difference between students is 10 percentage points, a flipped environment would theoretically raise the average student by 3.6 percentage points, to 78.6%. In more intuitive terms, 64% of the students in the flipped class would perform better than the average student in the traditional class. “Thus,'' the researchers, write, “although the effect on assessed learning outcome may be regarded as small, in the context of education it seems meaningful.”
Interestingly, the study did not find any statistically significant effect on student satisfaction. It is not uncommon, however, for effective teaching practices to increase student performance all while merely maintaining or even sometimes decreasing student satisfaction. The two can indeed be related, effective teaching practices placing the cognitive lift on students--an intellectual effort that is synonymous with learning, but that students do not necessarily enjoy, and which they often misinterpret as a sign of failure.
Importantly, the review insists on the great heterogeneity between studies in terms of findings. This could indicate that the flipped model was implemented very differently in different studies, and that its effectiveness depends heavily on the precise ways in which it inverts the learning environment. In this regard, researchers point out two important elements:
Overall, the study concludes that “flipping the classroom is a promising pedagogical approach when appropriately designed”.
Reference: Van Alten, Phielix, Jansen and Kester, “Effects of Flipping the Classroom on Learning Outcomes and Satisfaction: a Meta-Analysis”, Educational Research Review, 28, November 2019