Although many examples and definitions of a flipped, or inverted, classroom exist in a higher education context, there remains a lack of consensus on its definition and a lack of scholarly research determining its effectiveness. Key elements of what constitutes a flipped classroom include (a) an opportunity for students to gain exposure to content prior to class (e.g. recorded lectures), (b) an incentive for students to prepare for class (e.g. pre-class quizzes), (c) a mechanism to assess student understanding (e.g. graded pre-class quizzes), and (d) in-class activities that focus on higher-level cognitive activities involving active learning, peer learning, and/or problem solving.
Much of the existing research assessing the effectiveness of the flipped classroom in higher education contexts compares a flipped course to previous more traditional iterations. Findings from studies appear consistently positive.
Some quasi-experimental research have compared the flipped environment with more traditional teaching environment for its effectiveness in improving student grades. Results from these studies found either no differences in final examination (or posttest) scores between the two teaching environments or higher scores in the flipped classroom environment. No substantial evidence currently exists to support that an assessmentdriven flipped classroom design has better learning outcomes for students than a flipped classroom where summative assessment is not integrated with the flipped aspect of the teaching.
Based on previous findings and gaps in the literature, this research had two aims. The first aim was to categorise students within higher education based on their preferences for different components of flipped classrooms and then to assess any associated differences in terms of demographics, attitudes towards pre- and in-class activities, perceptions of the learning environment, engagement, academic self-efficacy, and final grades. The second aim was to identify whether student preferences, attitudes, perceptions, engagement, academic self-efficacy, and grades differed significantly according to whether a course: (a) was flipped with an underpinning theoretical perspective, (b) had flip-related assessable items, and (c) was entirely or partially flipped.
The results suggest that higher education students can be differentiated based on their preferences for elements of a flipped classroom, resulting in two clusters of students (‘‘Flip endorsers’’ and ‘‘Flip resisters’’). Although differences were found between those who endorse and those who resist flipped teaching environments, this differentiation based on preferences did not correspond to differences in their final grades in a flipped course. This suggests that preferences alone may not be the most informative aspect on which to evaluate a flipped classroom environment,
Further results suggest that when a theoretical perspective is used to inform the flipped classroom design, when summative assessment is integrated into the design of the flipped classroom, and when an entire course is flipped, students felt they had participated more actively and attentively in class activities; they also achieved better grades in their specific course.
The results of this study suggest that student grades may improve when course convenors flip more of the course, flip based on a theoretical perspective, and use summative assessment when flipping. These aspects seem to represent a stronger investment in the flipped classroom strategy that has subsequent advantages for learning outcomes.