To increase the impact of the classroom management course required for the teaching degree programme at one small, private Midwestern university, the professor implemented flipped learning. Students were given a survey related to their perception of learning potential using flipped instruction before and after the semester. Results indicated that most students perceived that they learned from video content. Recommendations for improving flipped learning at the college level are discussed.
When I joined the faculty at one small, private Midwestern university, I had the opportunity to look at first-year teacher data and surveys. Anecdotally, first-year graduates indicated that they struggled with classroom management, a course I was to take over. Classroom management is a weakness of teacher training programmes across the United States (Dicke et al., 2015). Students are leaving college unprepared to manage their classrooms effectively and lacking practical ideas of the challenges they will face (Merrett and Wheldall, 2017). Teacher training programmes must do a better job in delivering content in the area of classroom management and preparing students for the realities of the field. With the goal of enhancing instruction, I implemented flipped learning for one semester and measured the impact on student perceptions of learning, tracked through pre- and post-surveys. My hope was to build student confidence in classroom management by increasing their knowledge base and ability to apply what they learned.
Rationale and research question
Question: According to student perceptions, is flipped learning an effective way to learn classroom management content at the college level?
I had not used flipped instruction in a college course before this semester. I knew that college-level students need philosophical, ethical and content knowledge instruction and to be able to organise the information in ways that allow for application (Bransford et al., 1999). I wanted to create a classroom where lecture and content were acquired outside of class and in class we worked towards a process of organising and applying the information.
I created video content that matched the weekly themes as I had designed the classroom management course. During the first week, students were asked to watch two videos about positive behaviour interventions and supports (PBIS). PBIS is a framework of behaviour management based on positive feedback and built on the foundation of operant conditioning. Students produced weekly blog posts to satisfy artefacts for state teaching standards. I used these posts as an outlet to gain a measure of student reflection on the video content.
Students completed a pre-survey after week one, asking them five questions about flipped learning. At this point, the students had already watched two videos to facilitate their learning of PBIS, and they reported based on their knowledge of that framework in class and through the blog.
In the second week, students were asked to watch two more videos about teaching best practices. That week, I designed an in-class assessment piece to obtain a picture of student leaning. Results of this quiz indicated that many students did not have the content knowledge I had hoped from the videos.
In the third to the tenth week of instruction, students were asked to watch videos outside of class weekly. Video content ranged from four minutes to half an hour. Video content was reviewed and applied in class through student-led, 20-minute course time. Students were asked to lead the class in applying video content to their future classrooms. They taught with the idea of application for half of the class hour, and used assessment pieces, technology tools and engagement strategies to get the class involved in the application of video content.
One of the best applications of the learning was using a video about functional behaviour pathways. After this student led the in-class discussion, many students were able to apply and follow the pathway with a behaviour that they wished to change in the classroom. The student who was assigned the flipped learning application in the classroom indicated that they understood the pathway. I sat down with the student who presented a couple of weeks after the class. I asked the student about the process of learning the content and application. The student had watched the video instruction and did more supportive research online. They practised with the material multiple times and indicated that presenting the information and the accountability to present was instrumental in their ability to apply the content. This student said that they enjoyed learning from the video and felt that the project was useful. They gauged that those who paid attention during the lesson would be able to apply the content.
In the final week of flipped learning, students were asked to take flipped learning a step further and take a video course on discouraging inappropriate behaviour, offered through the state-sponsored PBIS website. This course included video modules and quizzes to correspond. I asked students to email screen shots of the quizzes and write a blog post to demonstrate their understanding of a specific concept in discouraging inappropriate behaviour. All of the students followed these guidelines and, based on their blog posts, it seemed that they engaged in the video content and had the ability to apply the information.
To measure student perceptions of how flipped instruction impacted on student learning, I created an anonymous Google Form. The pre-survey was composed of five prompts, and the post-survey of six (see Table 1). A Likert scale of one to five, with responses of strongly disagree, never and none of the time on the ‘one’ side measured in severity to strongly agree, always and very much on the ‘five’ side. A response of three was considered neutral.
Table 1: Pre- and post-survey prompts
I have used flipped learning before.
|I think watching video content before class will help me understand classroom management.
|I learned from video content.
Watching video content before class helped me understand classroom management.
I am concerned about the time investment of using flipped design.
|Flipped learning was too time-consuming.
Flipped learning was a waste of time.
|I plan to watch all of the video content.
I watched all of the video content.
I like learning from video content.
I liked learning from video content.
Results and discussion
During the second week of the semester, the 12 students on the course completed a pre-survey about their opinion and perception of flipped learning. Most of the students identified that they had not used flipped learning before, that they were neutral or positive about using flipped learning, neutral or concerned about time investment, and neutral or positive about the commitment to watch all of the videos. When asked whether they liked learning from videos, answers varied from strongly disagree to strongly agree on a one-to-five Likert scale.
In the post-assessment, students identified that they watched most or all of the video content. Most students identified that they learned from video content. They identified that the content helped them to understand classroom management. Most students felt that the work was a good use of time, although one student strongly agreed that flipped learning was a waste of time. When asked whether they liked learning from video content, most student responded neutrally.
To improve flipped learning for a college-level course, I examined Cynthia Brame’s (2013) key elements of the flipped classroom.
- ‘Provide opportunity to students to be exposed to content outside of class.’ (Brame, 2013) I made screen recordings of PowerPoints with voiceovers of the content. I uploaded the videos in QuickTime Player to our university-based online platform and categorised the videos by week. This content correlated with the in-class theme. If the students had easier access to one online channel, in the style of YouTube, I think more of the students would access the videos.
- ‘Provide an incentive for students to prepare for class.’ (Brame, 2013) I had no way to know whether students watched the videos and no accountability programme in place. Adding a quiz for credit or a reflection piece that requires students to engage with the video by highlighting direct quotes could help to increase engagement with video content.
- ‘Provide a mechanism to measure student understanding.’ (Brame, 2013) There was a lack of measure of understanding and accountability in the design of my implementation of flipped learning. Enhancing the application component of the in-class time in developing higher-order thinking projects could help to increase student understanding of content.
- ‘In-class activities to focus on higher level cognitive skills.’ (Brame, 2013) My goal with this work was to create a classroom of discussion, debate and application of behaviour philosophy and technique. In some cases, this was more successful than others. I turned the class over to students to lead 20-minute flipped instruction, facilitated by the video learning. What students did most often was to simply re-teach the video content and follow up with an assessment. It became clear to me that the students did not understand engagement strategies nor the difference between teaching and lecturing. To resolve this problem in the future, I will first demonstrate the level of lesson desired, including application of content versus the re-teaching of content. I also need to be more explicit about the design and purpose of flipped learning.
To strengthen the use of flipped instruction at the college level, I will follow Cynthia Brame’s guidelines for flipped learning. I will have an accountability plan, such as quizzes, to ensure that students spend the time watching the video content. I will guide students to engage in application rather than recapping and rehashing of video content. We will work on scenarios, case studies and application of content during class time. In order to do this, there has to be higher-level accountability for students to watch the videos so that they are ready to make connections during class time. In order for flipped learning to be successful at the college level, instructors should explicitly explain the goals and practice of flipped learning, create an accountability programme and model the difference between using class time to apply and create higher-order thinking versus lecture.
Brame CJ (2013) Flipping the classroom. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Available at: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/flipping-the-classroom/ (accessed 29 August 2018).
Bransford JD, Brown A and Cocking R (1999) How People Learn: Mind, Brain, Experience, and School. Washington, DC: National Research Council.
Dicke T, Elling J, Schmeck A et al. (2015) Reducing reality shock: The effects of classroom management skills training on beginning teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education 48: 1–12.
Merrett F and Wheldall K (2017) Teacher training and classroom discipline. In: Wheldall K, Discipline in Schools. London: Routledge, pp. 10–19.