Student perceptions of flipping classes

Mike Robinson
Sheffield Hallam University

This presentation reports on student and staff experience of significant changes made to the delivery of one module, namely, the introduction of a substantial element of ‘flipped learning’ and the redesign of classes to incorporate more interactivity between students, and tutors.
The motivations were:

  1. There is growing evidence in support of the benefits of ‘flipped learning’ in general(e.g. O’Flaherty and Phillips, 2015) and in particular for the benefits of improved learning in class ( Herreid and Schiller, 2013) and the time spent outside class (Demetry, 2010).
  2. The nature of the material, which requires lengthy calculations and extensive use of PCs, means that the opportunities for meaningful interactivity in a conventional lecture theatre are severely limited.
  3. The subject is such that the process of developing a solution is a key aspect, but is often unrecorded in the final written output. In a conventional approach, students see this the process once, and then practice it outside the classroom without staff present; by providing video lectures and more class activity, students have the opportunity to watch the process repeatedly, and staff can see and intervene in students’ efforts more often. Jordan et al (2012) concluded that screencasts were a ‘powerful tool support student learning’, and Robinson et al (2015) reported one student described videos as feeling ‘like the lecturer is explaining everything to you personally’.
  4. In previous years, whilst lecture attendance was high, tutorial attendance was poor, and the changes aimed to improve this.

The changes were enabled by the increased ease of video production, but also crucially by the provision of a new teaching space, seating up to 50 students in groups of 6-8, with laptops available. The size, larger than most PC labs, enabled reasonably efficient delivery to a large cohort (2 x 50 students), and the arrangement encouraged and facilitated group working.
The presentation will describe the changes in more detail, the challenges faced, and report on staff and student perceptions of this, in particular three student surveys: two, for all students, one administered part way through Semester 1, and another towards the end of the academic year, and a third aimed at students with a poor attendance record.
Demetry, C. (2010). Work in Progress – An innovation merging ‘classroom flip’ and team-based learning, In Proceedings of 40th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. Washington DC.

Herreid, C & Schiller, N. (2013). Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom, Journal of College Science Teaching, 42(5), pp.62-66.
Jordan, C, Loch, B, Lowe, T, Mestel, B and Wilkins, C (2012) Do short screencasts improve student learning of mathematics? MSOR Connections 11(4).
O’Flaherty, J & Phillips, C. (2015). The use of flipped classrooms in higher education: A scoping review, The Internet and Higher Education, 25, pp.85-98.
Robinson, M, Loch B, Croft, T (2015). Student perceptions of Screencast Feedback on Mathematics Assessment. International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education. 1(3), pp.363-385,