Monday, 8 February 2016

Reflecting on Feedback and Data on a Flipped Learning Experiment

According to the Vanderbilt University Centre for Teaching, the flipped classroom involves a reversal of traditional teaching where students are exposed to new material outside of class through videos or reading so that class time can be used to help students gain a better understanding of content through problem-solving, discussion or debates. (https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/flipping-the-classroom/)

When considering the Flipped Classroom model and Bloom’s revised taxonomy (2001), students will gain knowledge and comprehension of course work outside of class (‘lower’ level cognitive work), and will then focus on application, analysis, and synthesis (‘higher’ forms of cognitive work) in class.

For the Flipped Classroom method to be a success I found that it requires three essential elements:
  1. The students must be able to take more responsibility for their own learning before class in their own time. Students should then be prepared to participate in instructor-guided learning activities in class the following lesson.
  2. Teachers must plan and prepare the content for a whole term’s work rather than allowing for fluidity and change.
  3. Students must have regular access to technology to be able to complete much of the flipped course work.
I gathered data on five ESL students in my Year 10 History class, who have been predominantly taught using traditional methods (teacher as instructor lecturing to passive students) and this allowed me to prepare these students for assessment and then analyse test /results data.

My flipped lesson strategies involved providing students with handouts for pre-reading before other students received them, completing a lesson and associated questions via Sofia that I constructed, watching a video on Khan Academy, and discussing content, ideas and problems with me during class time. My main goal in flipping my lessons for the 5 EAL/D students was to reduce their anxiety and allow them to feel confident during teaching/lecturing lessons which would then hopefully lead to positive outcomes for their assessment results. Obviously I was hoping that their grades would improve but I did not want this to be the only focus of the project.

Although the students indicated that they were not confident that the flipped model was successful for them (Image 1) because their academic results did not change, I believe it was a successful method of teaching and learning.

Image 1

I believe that the higher forms of cognitive work associated with the pre-reading that was given and the following in-class activities and ongoing peer/instructor interaction, indicated that higher levels of metacognition associated with deep learning became evident and the students generally achieved levels of confidence that I had not seen before. My teacher aide confirmed this by indicating that the students rarely offered to answer questions in class time in other classes but were confident enough to do so when they completed their flipped lessons (Image 2). This in itself is one of the greatest outcomes of the flipped learning model.


Image 2

While I found the flipped classroom process to be time consuming due to the amount of preparation required I did find it provided positive outcomes for the ESL students. However, I also believe this outcome was positive because these students are generally known for their hard work ethic and have shown that they are willing to make sacrifices in order to improve their grades and, of course, their English language skills. This is why I believe the Flipped Model is not for everyone but it is an essential teaching and learning tool for students in ESL or EAL/D classes.

Best wishes,
Natasha

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