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The flipped classroom is a relatively new teaching
approach that stems from its role in addressing the learning needs of students
and involves flipping the traditional model of classroom instruction (Alvarez,
2012; Bergmann and Sams, 2012). In traditional setting, students spend class
time listening to lectures and, if time permits, they work on examples of the
newly presented concept. This traditional approach to instruction is being
revamped and alternative methods are being considered to keep students motivated
and engaged in their learning (Fulton, 2012a). The flipped classroom is one
suggested alternative to the traditional classroom setting. This instructional
model integrates digital technology within the curriculum, provides students
with differentiated instruction and enables the educator to take a role of
facilitator in the classroom (Overmyer, 2012). Although the concept of flipped
learning has existed for several years (Baker, 2000), the model has been
popularised by chemistry teachers Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams (Bergmann and
Sams 2012b) and the founder of the Khan Academy, Salman Khan (Khan, 2011).

Teachers who flip their classroom instructions allow students to play an active
role in their learning. When students take an active role by interacting with
their teacher and discussing ideas with peers, they are learning socially
(Vygotsky, 1978; Mazur, 1997). The flipped classroom is increasingly discussed
as an instructional strategy to improve students’ grades and attitudes towards
learning (Pilgrim, Bledsoe and Reily, 2012). The use of digital technology is
also timely for the new generation, and, as more educators seek to improve the
value and quality of their class time for 21st century learners, the
flipped model provides a guide for successful courses of action (Fulton, 2012b;
Overmyer 2012). Although the flipped classroom does not provide all the
solutions for the limitations of the traditional classroom, the approach allows
students to move at their own pace and advocate for their needs. Studies have
shown that when classrooms are flipped, student-student interactions and
teacher-student interactions increase, student learning deepens, and academic
performance increases (Fulton, 2012b). Videos made by the teachers were used to
disseminate the content to students who were missing many end of day classes
because of extracurricular activities (Bergmann and Sams, 2012). Educators are
now creating digital media to teach their students and enhance student learning
experience. Teachers across the U.S. have reported academic success in their
flipped classrooms. The Clintondale High School in the suburb of Detroit saw
remarkable results after introducing the flipped format into its curriculum;
students’ academic performance increased in exams and failure rates dropped in
maths and English (Fulton, 2012b). Teachers at the Byron High School, Minnesota,
began to flip their classrooms in mathematics in autumn 2010. In addition to
spending class time on individual assignments, the Byron High School used peer
instruction where students answered questions individually and then worked in
groups. As a result, students’ scores and mastery rates rose dramatically
(Fulton, 2012b). The innovation has spread to all maths courses at Byron High
and one 8th-grade mathematics teacher has joined the high school teachers in
the reform process to implement flipped classes in middle school (Fulton,
2012a). Students in K-12 flipped classrooms have generally achieved higher
academic performance, or at least performed equally, compared to traditional
classrooms (Lo and Hew, 2017).Finally, flipped learning improved students’
performance in grade-6 computer science class when there were greater
opportunities for students to engage in the discussion of higher-level problems
(Tsai, Shen and Lu, 2015). Classroom time
in flipped lessons is used for students to collaborate as teachers facilitate
learning. Students felt prepared and were given either individual attention by
their teacher or given tasks that challenged their understanding (Coufal,
2014). Active learning engages students in
the process of learning through activities and discussion in class, in
opposition to passively listening to an expert; it emphasises higher-order
thinking and often involves group work. Student collaborations in the classroom, coupled with the
implementation of digital technology, can move towards a powerful culture of
social learning. Youth are called ‘digital natives’ because they have always
lived in a world where digital technologies have existed. Scholars have not called for a revamping of the
traditional lecture teaching style and for educators to adopt a more
facilitative approach to learning, which integrates some form of technology. Many educators see
obstacles to creating classrooms dedicated to inquiry-based learning. Whilst the
first-order barriers are being resolved with school and government initiatives,
second-order barriers will need the rethinking of teachers’ capacity building
in terms of professional development (Wang, 2017). The incorporation of
time-saving technology is a recurrent theme in the literature surrounding the
application of the flipped model (Lo and Hew, 2017). Kirvan, Rakes
and Zamora
(2015) prepared the students gradually before full implementation of their
flipped classroom; a first step was students viewing video lectures during
class time. Preparing flipped learning materials often requires considerable
start-up effort (Kirvan, Rakes and Zamora, 2015). The collection of online content creation,
collaborations and distribution tools give educators an accessible toolkit for delivering
flipped learning, even when limited technology is available (Bergmann, 2016). The
implementation of the model, as proper application – quality videos and active
learning during in-class time – is fundamental to its success (Bormann, 2014). This study will add to the body of literature in
science education whilst simultaneously attempting to address students’ progress.

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The flipped format allows digital technology to be implemented in the
classroom, allows students to think critically and promotes class discussions. Studies compared performance in flipped classroom
with its traditional counterpart, but few have compared performance of the same
cohort (Clark, 2015). In the UK, there is a serious shortage of
home-grown STEM graduates, creating a worrying skills gap. 40,000 additional
STEM graduates will be needed each year to fill the 104,000 graduate-level jobs
our economy needs (Broughton, 2013). Early exposure to technology will engage
students as they are introduced to critical thinking, communication skills and
collaboration so that they may function in a globally competitive society as
adults.  

 

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