Does research support flipped learning?

Both the review and the shortened white paper based on the researchers’ review discuss some of the learning theories that underlie flipped learning, as well as describe limited empirical research findings.

According to the Review, many methods of learning incorporated into the flipped learning model are supported by years of research. For example:

Active learning, a prominent feature of flipped learning, provides students with “opportunities to interact with content through reading, writing, listening, talking, and reflecting,” explains the Review.

Active learning also has been shown to improve student academic performance, increase student engagement and critical thinking, and improve student attitudes.

Assistive technology is used with flipped learning and allows students to respond and give feedback during the peer instruction session, demonstrating how the process maximizes time with the instructor and increase the focus on higher order thinking skills, said Eric Mazur, the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University, and a leading researcher on peer instruction, in a talk he gave in 2011.

Constant feedback is another method of teaching and learning promoted by flipped learning, supported by Benjamin Bloom, the former American educational psychologist who made contributions to the classification of educational objectives and to the theory of mastery-learning.

Bloom observed that the constant feedback and correction students receive “significantly improves learning and achievement.” Also, according to the Review, decades of research on how student misconceptions can interfere with learning indicate the importance of strategies to identify and overcome those misconceptions.

Finally, flipped learning incorporates Cognitive Load theory, or pre-training during in-class learning. Ramsey Musallam, a chemistry teacher in San Francisco and adjunct professor of education at Touro University, researched the effects of pre-training on in-class learning and found it to be “easier to learn new material in class…suggest[ing] that pre-training may be an effective means of managing intrinsic cognitive load, thus facilitating learning,” according to the Review.

(Next page: The 4 pillars of flipped learning)

Meris Stansbury

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