Flipping the Classroom in Teacher Education: Implications for Motivation and Learning

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Published: 
November 1, 2019

Source: Journal of Teacher Education. Volume: 70 issue: 5, page(s): 410-422

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of the present study is to examine the motivational and learning outcomes of a redesigned teacher education program course.
Specifically, this study utilized a quasi-experimental design to examine differences between traditional and flipped sections of an introduction to educational psychology course taken by preservice teachers.
Learning outcomes were constructed from objective tests and motivation outcomes were measured from a Self-Determination Theory (SDT) framework.
Given previous results that flipped classrooms appear to support learning as well as a theoretical basis for supporting psychological needs, the following research questions were investigated:
1: Do the reports of need satisfaction and level of motivation differ between participants in the flipped sections and participants in the traditional sections?
2: Do meaningful learning (e.g., analyzing) outcomes differ between participants in the flipped sections and participants in the traditional sections?
3: Do perceptions of having learned differ between participants in the flipped sections and participants in the traditional sections?
4: Do nonmeaningful learning outcomes differ between participants in the flipped sections and participants in the traditional sections?

Method

Context
Two sections of the course consisted of a traditional lecture format, and two consisted of a flipped format across two semesters—one section of each format in each of the semesters. In-class time in the traditional format generally consisted of a lecture that entailed review of some of the main themes in the text, synthesis of readings, expansion of concepts, minimal large- and small-group discussion, and so on.
In the flipped format, lectures were available via online courseware and accompanied by quizzes (not factored into the course grade) and discussion boards instituted as a comprehension check.
The intent was that the video lectures were to be viewed prior to class but remained open for the purpose of review throughout the course.
Class time consisted of a broader array of activities, discussions, and case studies than the traditional lecture format.
Both formats contained many of the same assignments and assessments though there were a few exceptions dictated by the format of the course.
Tests for both formats were identical, and both had a required field-experience and associated journaling assignments.

Participants and Procedures
Participants (N = 263) were recruited from one of four sections of an introductory course in educational psychology at a large, Midwestern university.
There were 152 participants in the flipped sections of the course and 111 in the traditional section.
Participants in both formats completed surveys during weeks 14 to 16. Achievement data were collected throughout the term beginning in the fourth week and concluding on the final week of the 15-week term.

Results and discussion
Given the theoretical support for flipped classrooms, the authors hypothesized increased motivation and learning in these environments.
In general, they found no support that preservice teachers would report increased levels of motivation in flipped classrooms over those in the traditional sections of the course, though they did find partial support for increased learning.
They provide some tentative explanations for these findings.

Rather than merely failing to find significant increased need satisfaction and motivation outcomes for flipped sections of the course, the authors found evidence to the contrary—preservice teachers in the traditional sections had higher intrinsic and identified regulation than those in the flipped sections.
Whereas some studies have found that students have a preference for flipped classrooms (e.g., Davies et al., 2013), others have found that students do not prefer them.
For example, Breslow (2010) found that students reported dissatisfaction with group work and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Cobb (2016) also found that students preferred more traditional approaches and would be less likely to take a flipped class in the future.

The authors suggest that quite simply, it could be that the preservice teachers in the present study were unfamiliar with flipped classrooms and disliked the novelty of the format.
It is worth noting that few attempts were made to get student “buy-in” in the flipped classroom sections.

There was no introduction to the flipped format, outline of implications for how they should approach the course, nor highlights as to the possible learning benefits.
Such introductions may be important in preparing students for more active-learning pedagogies (Smith, 2008).
In addition, it could be that traditional sections are more consistent with participants’ previous formal educational experiences and, thus, more closely aligned with their conception of teaching (Levin, 2015).
As a result, the values, expectations, and behaviors in the traditional sections would have been easier for these preservice teachers to endorse. In other words, these students would have found the class to be more motivating.
Future studies examining flipped classrooms in teacher education should control for students’ previous experience with flipped classes as well as their beliefs about teaching.

While preservice teachers in the flipped sections did not report that they learned more than those in the traditional classrooms, the authors found significant increases in several of the actual learning outcomes—specifically, on the topics of information processing, development, and motivation.
Yet, they did not find significant learning outcomes for the topics of complex cognitive processes or assessment.
And though they did not anticipate differences in learning on items tapping into lower levels of processing, they found that those in the flipped classrooms had significantly higher scores.
The authors offer two tentative explanations.
First, it could simply be that these latter topics were less amenable to the more active-learning pedagogies typically employed in flipped classrooms, or simply that fewer were employed in the flipped sections in the present study.

A second explanation stems from the learning histories of the preservice teachers in the present study.
Although participant transcripts were not obtained, it is probable that the preservice teachers in this study had been previously exposed to the topics of information processing, development, and motivation in courses taken earlier or prior to matriculation into the program.
It is less likely that they had been exposed to the topics of complex cognitive processes or assessment.
Consequentially, it may be that preservice teachers found this material more challenging.
Regardless, there did not appear to be any short-term drawbacks for those preservice teachers in the flipped sections during coverage of these topics. In other words, the benefits of the flipped format may have been negated by the complexity of the material or the learning histories of the students.
It may be that to fully reap the learning benefits of flipped classrooms, some topics may require modifications to this format.
Still, it should be emphasized that, regardless of topic, there were no learning benefits for those taking the course in traditional classrooms over those in the flipped versions.

Conclusion
The authors conclude that findings from the present study found partial support for the learning benefits, but no support for the motivational benefits of flipped classrooms.
Thus, the results lend further support to the growing enthusiasm regarding the potential for flipped classrooms to promote student learning, though caution is certainly warranted at this time.
Certainly, data do not support the notion that flipping the classroom might serve as a “silver bullet.”
It should not be expected that flipping the classroom will replace thoughtful, student-centered planning paired with good teaching rooted in the principles of motivation and learning.

References
Breslow, L. (2010). Wrestling with pedagogical change: The TEAL initiative at MIT. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 42(5), 23-29
Cobb, W. N. W. (2016). Turning the classroom upside own: Experimenting with the flipped classroom in American government. Journal of Political Science Education, 12(1), 1-14.
Davies, R. S., Dean, D. L., & Ball, N. (2013). Flipping the classroom and instructional technology integration in a collegelevel information systems spreadsheet course. Educational Technology Research and Development, 61(4), 563-580.
Levin, B. B. (2015). The development of teachers’ beliefs. In H. Fives & M. G. Gill (Eds.), International handbook of research on teachers’ beliefs (pp. 48-65). New York, NY: Routledge
Smith, G. A. (2008). First-day questions for the learner-centered classroom. The National Teaching and Learning Forum, 17, 1-4. 

Updated: Jun. 14, 2020
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