Background: Engagement in self-directed learning is an essential tertiary graduate capability that contributes to preparing graduates for their future life and work learning journey. Constructivist teaching and learning approaches that facilitate higher levels of engagement of students in their own learning are necessary. The flipped classroom (FC) is an integrative approach to learning and teaching being adopted in higher education to help facilitate students’ engagement in self-directed learning. The FC is designed to engage students in foundation content traditionally covered in the didactic environment prior to class time, via independent pre-class learning activities. Foundation learning is then applied in class through interactive group based activities for higher order learning. Shifting foundation content to the pre-class space requires students to take greater responsibility for their independent learning and enhanced active participation in the collaborative in-class learning space.
Evaluation method: This pilot study produced the Flipped Classroom Student Engagement Questionnaire (FCSEQ) used to evaluate the impact of flipping on students’ level of engagement in learning. The FCSEQ comprised five learning engagement constructs drawn from the literature. Informal qualitative evaluation data was collected from students to monitor how they were responding to the FC approach and inform adaptations along the way.
Outcomes: Nine health courses were introduced to that FC approach in 2014. A total of 260 undergraduate and 40 post graduate students participated in the evaluation. Overall findings indicated the majority of students (55.7% response rate) were moderately to very engaged (94%), in the FC. When compared with traditionally-delivered courses, about half (52%) reported being more or a lot more engaged, and 30% neither more nor less engaged. Student engagement was higher for structured in-class workshop learning activities, than structured activities outside class time. There was evidence that the FC may not appeal to all students, hence consideration needs to be given to diverse student learner style preferences.
Addresses sub-theme: Strategies to assess, evidence and evaluate graduate capabilities is an important aspect of learning and teaching practice. Gaining greater insight into how the adoption of new approaches to learning and teaching, and how this impacts on student graduate capabilities requires evaluation. This pilot study set out to introduce and evaluate the impact of the flipped classroom approach on participating students’ engagement in learning; where little evaluation has been carried out to date in the higher education setting. The pilot study has demonstrated how students’ capabilities relate to aspects of engagement. The survey instrument developed and administered (FCSEQ) found that overall engagement was related to five engagement constructs: motivation, active participation, performance, independent inquiry and peer collaboration. However, being more engaged in a flipped classroom compared with a traditional classroom was only related to the first three engagement constructs. This indicates that students who report higher levels of critical graduate attributes such as independent inquiry and peer collaboration do not necessarily prefer a flipped classroom. This pilot work provides a foundation for further work to identify whether the flipped classroom approach actually contributes to students life-long learning capabilities.