Flipped Learning in Chemistry Education

Introduction

The introduction of computers and the internet has had enormous changes in many aspects of life including the education systems of the world (Engin & Donanci 2016; Foldnes 2016). Through improved technology, many elements of the education and learning systems have developed to allow for improved delivery of knowledge and skills. Recent studies on the effects of technology in the education sector have revealed that there are new directions that have been unlocked by the advancement of technology in the world (Huh 2015; Foldnes 2016). For example, nowadays learners do not have to necessarily attend a physical class as there are numerous online platforms that are offering various courses. Such changes have led to a lot of pressure and discussions that have catalyzed changes in the physical learning. One of such changes is the adoption of the flipped learning, which has gained a lot of popularity over the recent years in secondary school setting and in institutions of higher learning (Im 2014). The flipped learning experience is a new approach that combines the use of videos and homework based assignments that can be discussed in class (Engin & Donanci 2016). Such an approach provides platform to a learning experience that for a long time has remained in theories and considered incompatible. According to Foldnes (2016), the foundation of the flipped learning method is relies on instructional lectures and constructivist ideology that are based on direct instruction methods that use various behaviorist principles.

The emergence of the flipped learning approach can be attributed to the technological advancement, which has since changed the global education greatly (Engin & Donanci 2016). Through the adoption of new technology in education, it has become possible to amplify and duplicate information at a very low cost. Since 1830s when the electronic telegraph was introduced to the introduction of the internet, world-wide web and computers, there have been enormous changes in the education system and learning methodology (Huh 2015). Such change have led to the distribution of ideas via various channels thereby leading to a form of ideological movement that has eliminated all the challenges that hinder the open and free flow of ideas and information (Im 2014). As such, technological devices have been introduced in the education sector, which have made the learning experience better nowadays (Jang 2015). Ng (2015) noted that the last dramatic changes in the technologies and creation of the new devices gave rise to blended learning classrooms and promoted the evolution of the unique educational phenomena known as the flipped classroom.

A number of scientists, instructors, teachers and officials admit the great potential of the flipped learning model and highlight the positive effect it has on the learning process. Under these conditions, the given approach to instructions becomes popular. Nevertheless, the idea and main concepts of flipped learning are not new and have already been mentioned by investigators; however, the current level of the development of technologies and their widespread conditioned the significant increase of its popularity. Bergmann and Sams (2012) noticed that a certain number of students miss classes, a move that provoked them to use video recordings and screen casting software to record lectures, presentations, seminars, etc. These materials were then posted on YouTube for all students. This new approach contributed to the reconsideration of the traditional learning approach and resulted in the significant shift of priorities. The success of the above-mentioned flipped classroom’s prototype led to increased interaction of students in class. Generally, flipped learning involves the replacement of the after-lecture homework with the students’ individual work before class and the precise investigation of the important material by their own. The main advantage of the flipped approach is that it is highly flexible as teachers obtain more time and thus, can help students who have various problems. Additionally, the learners can use the flipped learning methodology to increase the level of interest and discussions among the peers thereby, promoting the development of thinking skills.

According to the Flipped Learning Network (2014), it is important to clear off any misconceptions regarding flipped learning in order to improve the comprehension of the main idea. Under these conditions, flipped learning is a new pedagogical method which implies the shift of priorities from the direct instructions to the individual learning space. The resulting group space is altered into a dynamic, interactive, invitational learning environment characterized by the educator’s efforts to guide students and engage them in the subject matter to improve their critical skills and knowledge. However, to be able to use the method of flipped learning teachers have to incorporate basic components into their practices and experiences. The new approach helps educators to manage their time more effectively and increase their flexibility; moreover, the significant change of the learning culture, efficiency, and academic performance are crucial for the flipped methodology.

Investigating the image and popularity of the new approach, numerous studies have found that majority of individuals prefer the flipped structure based on the pre-class reading and quiz tasks to the traditional methods (Engin & Donanci 2016). Additionally, other researchers discovered that the Flipped classroom method could be characterized by numerous advantages such as the increased student engagement, better usage of the classroom time, new opportunities for discussion and access to a number of expert thoughts and instruction anytime. The combination of these aspects proves the advantageous character of the new approach and its potential in improving academic performance of learners. Ng (2015) noted that a technologically enhanced classroom could be both effective and interesting for students who are used to the traditional learning approach. It could promote learning even better than stimulation-based training because of the unique nature which combines innovations with a certain level of freedom.

The implementation of the flipped classroom could be considered another step towards the development of a more customized learning environment which might encourage a student to learn anytime and anywhere. Even though there are studies that have discovered that students in a flipped classroom do not demonstrate significant differences compared with the traditional lecture-style classes, it is also clear that such learners have much more opportunities in class to communicate with teachers and their peers, ask the topical questions and share some thoughts related to a certain issue. Generally, learners in flipped classroom arrangement experience a better learning environment and were more motivated to learn and acquire knowledge (Ng 2015). Various researchers and scholars have showed that in-person lectures in higher education are no longer preferred as they have been outperformed slightly by video lectures (Engin & Donanci 2016). In addition, a lot of popularity nowadays is on online videos that tend to be highly interactive. The introduction of online tutoring platforms has also changed greatly the learning experience since such systems are no different from human tutors. Moreover, the online tutoring systems have more advantages when compared to human tutors since learners can access them anytime provided they have internet connection (Huh 2015). Nevertheless, a low rate of adoption of such systems has been noted which can be attributed to the prohibitive expenses of developing better educational systems. In spite of this, the flipped learning approach has since proved to be quite a suitable alternative that breaks down the financial barriers involved in adopting various educational systems.

The concept of flipped learning has led to a lot of debates following its introduction and increased popularity in universities and high schools (Engin & Donanci 2016). In addition, flipped learning approaches are being used in the corporate arena. Despite the fact that there is increased popularity regarding the adoption of flipped learning, majority of people do not have clear information on the significance of flipped learning in the education system (Im 2014). This can be attributed to the fact that there are numerous misconceptions among professionals regarding the real meaning of flipped learning experience (Leem 2016). In addition, such cases can also be attributed to the availability of limited research in this field. However, several studies have provided insights into the concept of flipped learning by dispelling the misconception that flipping a learning experience is all about learners watching videos during a lecture outside a class and then carrying out assignments in class (Engin & Donanci 2016; Jang 2015). It is considered to be a learner-centered strategy through which tutors working towards maximizing retention and learning by adopting the best approaches to manage class time. Due to the fact that there are limited studies on this subject along with the increased misconceptions about flipped learning, this study provides an in-depth analysis of the flipped learning methodology by using case study of chemistry subject in higher education institutions. Such an approach will offer the necessary insights into the subject of flipped learning by looking at the efficiency of flipped learning in comparison to traditional learning method.

Aim of the study

This study, which focuses on flipped learning in chemistry, primarily aims to analyze the concept of flipped learning as used in higher education. As such, the study hopes to determine the significance of flipped learning in institutions of higher education.

Problem statement

The advancement of technology, as pointed out earlier, has had a lot of impact in the education system as far as delivery of knowledge and skills to learners is concerned. In spite of this, there have been increased concerns over the efficacy of some of the methods that are being used by instructors and teachers in schools. Such concerns are instigated by the fact that traditional learning is not very much effective especially for the chemistry masters’ students (Engin & Donanci 2016). First, chemistry is a very involving subject that requires a lot of interactions between teachers and learners, stimulations, numerous assignments as well as a lot of research work. As such, for effective grasp of concepts in chemistry, learners are required to have enough time for their studies (Seery 2015). Nevertheless, the amount of time allocated for chemistry classes is barely enough for learners to carry out the studies and practical and understand them. This explains why there is a need for a better method of learning that can ensure that learners use the available time maximum in order to cover the required concepts. As such, the flipped learning approach is considered to be a suitable option based on the current needs and demands within the education sector.

The flipped learning method beats the traditional mode of learning in that learners have the option of learning through online platforms using videos alongside any notes that are posted by their lecturer at any given time, whether at home or during any free time they might have (Leem 2016). Such an approach allows the learners to gain the knowledge and skills from online databases for a chance to carry an analysis and discussions in class for better understanding of a particular subject since each learner brings forth their input in class during the discussion. In addition, the learners are also allowed to use laboratories for any practical tasks as a way to boost their understanding whenever such need arises (Im 2014). Evidently, the concept of flipped learning has a high potential of boosting the performance of learners especially in technical and practical subjects such as chemistry (Seery 2015). This comes at a time when the traditional mode of learning has been blamed for allowing students that are highly dependent on the lecturers’ information. The adoption of flipped learning in higher education has a high chance of building individuals that are self-reliant and responsible and hence, play a significant role in improving the performance of learners since the approach enhances teamwork work.

Motivation for the study

Over the past years, the learning culture has been changing gradually to meet the increased demand for education within the limited time (Im 2014). Flipped learning is one of such changes that had really transformed the education sector nowadays (Engin & Donanci 2016). Its growing popularity is based on the fact that the approach incorporates an active learning experience in lecture rooms and classrooms. Numerous institutions of higher education have reportedly adopted flipped learning in chemistry (Hwang, Lai, & Wang 2015). The use of flipped learning approach especially for the masters’ students allows them to be very independent and accountable for their learning instead of relying on the lecturers for everything. The learners get the opportunity to effectively use the available time for their practical sessions as well as have the chance to hold discussions in class for better understanding of concepts. The flipped learning allows lecturers and learners to agree on what time to be in class in order to discuss the outcomes and maybe difficulties they faced during their individual learning (Foldnes 2016). Another significance of using flipped learning is that it tends to make the students very interactive.

According to recent studies, the active participation of learners in a discussion builds teamwork, hence improving the relationship among the students and between the students and the lecturer (Im 2014). Due to the improved relationship with the lecturer, the students will be more confident in their learning leading to high and improved performance even for the less disadvantaged students in speed of learning.

The motivation for this study is to provide an analysis of the rationale behind the adoption of flipped learning in higher education, as well as the implementations of such an approach among educators. The analysis will help to determine some of the emerging trends, challenges and benefits of the adoption and implementation of flipped learning at the university level, especially in chemistry education. Such an understanding is necessary especially in establishing some of the strategies that can be incorporated to aid in the development of the flipped learning concept in higher education chemistry.

Objectives of the study

The concept of flipped learning has gained increased popularity among educators and learners in the recent years. As such, this study hopes to carry out an in-depth analysis of flipped learning experience in chemistry education at the university level based on the following objectives.

  1. To explore the challenges and barriers of adopting and implementing flipped learning in chemistry at higher education.
  2. To determine a best practice of flipped learning.
  3. To establish some of the advantages and disadvantages of adopting flipped learning approach in higher education.
  4. To find out the weaknesses and strengths of the flipped learning in MSc.

Research questions

Research questions are questions that are used in research to help a researcher analyze a given societal problem based on the particular objectives of the given study; they act as the guidelines. For example, in the current study, a lot of focus is on examining the adoption and implementation of flipped learning in chemistry at the university level. As such, the researcher can adopt research questions to guide the course of the study in order to ensure that all the study’s objectives are fulfilled and all necessary areas covered. For this reason, and based on the objectives of the study, the study will seek to answer the following research questions.

  1. Are there any challenges and barriers of adopting and implementing flipped learning in chemistry at higher education?
  2. Which is the best practice of flipped learning?
  3. Are there any advantages and disadvantages of adopting flipped learning approach in higher education?
  4. Are there any weaknesses and strengths of the flipped learning in MSc?

Structure of the Dissertation

This dissertation follows the five-chapter dissertation structure that comprises of the introduction chapter, literature review chapter, research design and methodology chapter, results and data analysis chapter, and the last chapter, the findings, discussion and conclusion chapter.

In this case, chapter one, which is the introduction chapter, provides the background of concept of flipped learning in chemistry. In addition, this chapter highlights the research questions, research aims and objectives, as well as the justification for carrying out a study on flipped chemistry. The next chapter is the literature review chapter. This chapter essentially is used to provide support for any research phenomenon by looking at various sources of information that aligns with the study’s objectives. In the case of the current study, the literature review focuses on providing an in-depth analysis of the adoption and implementation of flipped learning in chemistry at the higher education level. Therefore, the literature review chapter provides more information on the subject of flipped learning based on several secondary sources of data such as journals and books. These sources will be useful in establishing the advantages and disadvantages of flipped learning in chemistry and the associated challenges. The findings from the review of the literature in this case will be compared with survey results and a comprehensive discussion carried out in chapter five.

Often, the research design and methodology chapter provides the various methods used to collect, record, and analyze data on a particular research subject. In this case, chapter three of the study focuses on suitable research designs and methodologies that used in collecting both primary and secondary data on flipped learning in order to fulfill the study’s objectives.

On the other hand, chapter four, which is the results and data analysis chapter carries out a significant analysis of the collected data, both primary and secondary for a chance to find out any challenges, advantage and disadvantages of using flipped learning in chemistry, as well as establish any weaknesses and strengths of flipped learning approach in chemistry at the university level. Lastly, chapter five of any dissertation focuses on discussing any findings from any survey or interviews carried out and comparing such results with the literature review’s findings. As such, in the case of the current study, chapter five provides a comprehensive discussion on the concept of flipped learning in chemistry based on the insights from both the literature review and the survey carried out. In addition, the chapter provides a conclusion and recommendations on the use this type of approach in chemistry education.

Literature Review

The concept of flipped learning has received a lot of attention in high schools and other institutions of higher learning over the recent years (Engin & Donanci 2016). This follows an increase in the popularity of this method of learning as opposed to the traditional learning approach whereby learners relied entirely on their teachers and lecturers for all the information that they need. In spite of this, there is still limited knowledge as far as the significance of flipping a class is concerned among many educators and learners (Foldnes 2016). For this reason, there is a need for more research in this area to provide the necessary insights on the importance of flipped learning as compared to the traditional learning approach. Several studies have been carried out in order to explain the concept of flipped learning. For example, there is a general perception that flipped classroom methodology is better than traditional approach based on the significance of each in improving the outcomes of students (Huh 2015).

In recent years flipped learning has become a popular substitute to conventional teaching methods. It was started as source that provided a chance to the students to acquire knowledge and skills from the lectures and course materials (Foldnes 2016). However, at a much later date, flipped learning was introduced in the practices of the formal education to present material to students thereby, helping to move ahead in class and make way for active learning environments within the space of formal education as seen in a study by Jang (2015) on Korean language instruction using flipped learning. To clear out the dilemma regarding the concept of flipped learning and its wrong presentation within the student group, flipped learning is a newer approach that includes direct instructions that are circulated among groups of students taking in consideration the individual learning stability and environment for positive learning. As pointed out by the Flipped Learning Network (2014), interactive learning is essential for students and lecturers since it enhances an innovative learning platform.

The mode in which learners acquire knowledge in the case of flipped learning is the primary point of concern since learners are allowed to gain considerable knowledge and skills through videos and practical lessons outside the classroom setting (Hwang, Lai, & Wang 2015). This approach helps the learners to accomplish their studies by getting acquainted with any subject substance preceding classes. The number of chemistry lecturers who have implemented the flipped style of learning in their classroom is few. Nevertheless, Bergmann and Sams (2012) pointed out that learners are likely to improve on their performance if their lecturers use the flipped learning approach.

Research has showed that the adoption rate of the flipped classrooms is low in many parts of the world such as in countries like the United Kingdom. Such a low response rate shows that there is a need for adequate thoughtfulness on the implementation and adoption of the methodology. In addition, lack of knowledge and awareness on the importance flipped learning among learners and educators has played a considerable role in the low adoption rate. Over the years, the original version of flipped learning has been modified to take put into consideration all the needs of high school and higher education levels (Bergmann & Sams 2012). The adoption of the flipped learning method is a whole process that involves personalized education and the provision of superior level of independence to learners (Foldnes 2016).

It is estimated that the average performance of learners is likely to improve when exposed to an active learning environment compared to a case whereby the learners are only required to get all the necessary information from their lecturers (Jung 2015). For this reason, this review of literature focuses on analyzing the concept of flipped learning especially in chemistry at higher education (Engin & Donanci 2016). As such, the literature review highlights the challenges, barriers, advantages and disadvantages of adopting and implementing flipped learning approach in chemistry and masters’ level of education by looking at available past studies in this field.

Understanding flipped learning

Understanding the concept of flipped learning sets the base for more insights on the significance, barriers, its advantages and disadvantages. Over the recent years, there has been a shift in educational concepts whereby a lot of focus and interest has been put on learning models that emphasize on the interdependence of the learner as opposed to teacher-centered approach that has been practiced for numerous years in the past (Engin & Donanci 2016).

In the aspect of the learner-centered learning methodology, teachers have several roles to play in order to ensure efficiency of education. First, the teachers are tasked with the responsibility of providing knowledge to the learners. The second role and the most significant one in the case of flipped learning is the role of promoting learning whereby the teachers are required to offer encouragement to learners through active construction of knowledge (Foldnes 2016). As such, flipped learning is nowadays, has received a lot of attention since it is considered to be highly innovative and very important in shaping learners to be independent individuals in the future. The concept of flipped learning overrules the direct teaching that has been common in traditional methodology and puts a lot of emphasis on the provision avenues that equip learners with knowledge towards the achievement of objectives in higher levels of learning and life in general (Jung 2015; Wallace 2014). This approach was introduced in institutions of learning by Bergmann and Sams (2012), who offered learners with a chance to access recorded lecture notes via online platforms. Through such an approach, the learners were in a position to go through the learning materials outside classroom and at a time that was convenient to them. This approach was applauded by many people as the learners were able to watch the recorded videos before attending any class and hence, building basic knowledge of the class concepts (Foldnes 2016). Resultantly, it became easy to hold and respond to discussions in class to solve any challenges the learners encountered during their online learning.

Numerous definitions of flipped learning have emerged. For example, flipped learning refers to an instructional approach, which works by reversing the traditional learning environment through the delivery of instructional content which is usually done through online platforms and away from classrooms (Hwang, Lai, & Wang 2015). Such an approach has the capacity of moving activities that are considered by the traditional learning approach to be homework to classrooms. There are various approaches to blended learning as defined by different scholars (Foldnes 2016). For example, some authors consider blended learning to the combination of web technology such as text, audio, video streaming, collaborative learning, self-paced instruction, as well as live virtual classroom, for the purpose of accomplishing a given educational goal (Engin & Donanci 2016). Such an approach is aimed at the production of optimal learning results either through the use of instructional technology or in its absence (Jung 2015). For better results, the educators have the option of combining instructional technology with training that is face-to-face based aimed at achieving harmonious learning experience (Foldnes 2016). According to Hwang, Lai, and Wang (2015), there is a need for the optimization of learning objectives through the flipped learning approach. This can be achieved through the use of the appropriate personal learning technology in order to determine the suitable personal learning style in order to ensure the right individuals get the right skills whenever needed. On the other hand, blended learning is considered to be founded on the introduction of the internet.

There is a common belief that blended learning can be used to refer to flipped learning. Such misconception is attributable to the fact that the flipped model of learning exhibits characteristics similar to the blended learning model but there are various differences. For example, the focus of blended learning is on technology and enhancing learner’s engagement and combines traditional face-to-face approach with asynchronous e-learning elements. However, Lee (2013) pointed out that flipped learning model emphasizes on strategies that aim at addressing various forms of learning and specifically hopes to provide the best avenues that an instructor can use in supporting learners in their education. As such, this model of learning allows instructors to offer the necessary advice and support to learners in tasks that involve high-level requirements such as creation, analysis and application (Huh 2015). On the other hand, low-level tasks that involve thinking and remembrance are considered to be part of flipped classroom whereby completion of such tasks can be done through learners’ collaboration without the input of the instructors.

On a general view, blended learning can be considered to be the combination of online learning with face-to-face instructions. The definition of blended learning as the combination of face-to-face instructions and online learning is widely used in the academic circle nowadays. As such, most recent descriptions of blended learning align with this definition. For example, Li (2012) pointed out that blended learning gets support from online learning, and allows the integration of online learning with face-to-face instructions for the purpose of reducing cost while enhancing the efficiency of learning experience. On one perspective Li (2012) considers the significance of combining online learning with traditional learning, and on the other, he believes that the teacher in flipped learning has an insignificant role as far as the monitoring of learning and guiding learners is concerned. In spite of this, flipped learning is seen as a learning process that is directed by the learners and is based on the need to boost the creativity and initiatives of learners.

In spite of the fact that there is increased interest about flipped classroom, it has been revealed that there still no consensus on the meaning of flipped classroom. Simply, one would consider flipped class as inverting the traditional meaning of classroom whereby activities that were common in traditional classroom are carried outside the classroom in flipped classroom, while most of the activities that were undertaken outside classroom traditionally, are nowadays found inside the classroom. The implication is that most events such as homework are done in class whereby learners engage in discussions after self-learning outside the classroom. In most of the cases, flipped classroom is considered based on the notion of group-based interactive learning events that are carried out in a class with respect to past theories that explain student-centered learning approaches. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the nature of activities in flipped classroom tend to change significantly based on differences in studies. Often, studies have showed that most of the courses that adopt the flipped classroom approach are those that are characterized by events comprising of web-based video lectures as well as problems and quizzes that are closed-ended. In the case of traditional courses, such a description fits all the instructions available to learners. The flipped classroom can be considered to be a representation of curriculum expansion as opposed to simply re-arranging activities.

Most researchers and scholars consider flipped classroom to include recorded class content that can be watched before learners attend a class whereby they can discuss challenging tasks (Lee 2013). According to Leem (2016), flipped learning helps learners to remain active during class time through discussions add answering of questions after watching videos on course content. However, there are other researchers such as Hwang, Lai, and Wang (2015) whose perception about flipped learning does not necessarily include confinement of self-learning to internet or the use of videos. This belief is based on the fact that learners can achieve similar objectives as they would if they used internet or videos provided they get the necessary guidance and appropriate learning contents. The role of the teachers during a flipped learning is to ensure that the learners follow the right procedures by helping them in both brainstorming and discussions. In addition, the teachers are also required to provide feedback and advice based on their professional experience. Usually, it is expected that learners are able to engage in heated communication, discuss effectively, as well as have the opportunity of solving any problems that they encounter in the course of quality self-learning (Leem 2016). For this reason, learners have a responsibility to fulfil in flipped classroom by being active in terms of asking relevant questions and using any feedback and advice provided by their teachers.

As opposed to the traditional approach of learning, teachers in flipped classroom setting are considered to be more of assistants and facilitators than just instructors (Huh 2015). The increased popularity of flipped learning has transformed learning whereby learners have the opportunity to learn at the comfort of their home. As such, flipped learning can be considered to be a suitable learning model that engages learners in classroom interactions and more practice (Hwang, Lai, & Wang 2015). This description fits the definition of flipped learning as coined by the Flipped Learning Network (2014) that flipped learning entails a learning methodology that ensures learners’ engagement by moving direct instructions to a personal learning space. Such a transition transforms the group to a learning environment that is highly interactive and dynamic with the educators guiding learners through the application of learning concepts and active learner-engagement. For this reason, the flipped classroom takes into consideration activities that are carried out by a group inside a class, as well as individual instructions that are carried out outside a class. In spite of the fact that the adoption of flipped learning in higher education is very important in enhancing effective learning within school settings Leem (2016) pointed out that there is equal need to engage learners in tasks that are based on the real-world setting.

Theoretical Framework

There are various theories that are used in the design of activities carried out inside flipped classroom. Such theories are aimed at the justification of the use of flipped learning in modern studies. In addition, such theoretical foundations purpose on providing justification of the significance of the use of classroom time in doing homework and other discussions. The adoption of flipped learning in school can be attributed to the significance of peer-assisted learning as pointed out in Piaget’s theory of 1967 and Vygotsky theory of 1978. However, even though learning styles are important in any school setting, they do not justify the existence of different learning events as well as lacks the framework to describe the structure of different learning activities. In the following sections, a few theories on student-centered learning are discussed.

Learning styles

According to theories on learning styles, it is more likely that different people exhibit different learning styles that are unique for each individual. Thus, the educational outcome of individuals is likely to improve if such individuals are matched to their special learning style. There are numerous studies that cover the literature of learning styles. However, the interest of this section is on two learning styles which include the Kolb learning style and the Fieder and Silverman theory of learning styles. The Kolb learning style is based on the foundations of Piaget, Dewey and Lewin, and comprises of a learning cycle in which Kolb points out that it is universal. In addition, this model recognizes the role of perception and processing in the educational outcomes of learners. The second learning styles theory was postulated by Felder and Silverman, which they developed to be applied by engineering educators and students. The foundation of this theory is based on the concept of psychology and the aspects of perception and processing as used in Kolb’s learning styles. However, this theory has five dimensions including understanding, processing, organization, input and perception. As such, most of the learning styles based on this theory focus on perspective, the participation of learners, organization, presentation, and content.

Collaborative and Peer-Assisted Learning

Peer assisted learning has become a common practice in institutions of high education nowadays. It is considered to be the act of acquiring skills and knowledge among individuals who are equal in terms of status or even matched companions through helping one another. The implication of this definition is that learners engage in discussions whereby each individual contributes towards various subjects thereby equipping one another with varieties of skills and knowledge.

Cooperative learning

Cooperative learning takes into consideration a number of parts including learners working as a team to achieve a certain goal, division of labor among team members with the aim of ensuring that each member achieves a give sub-goal, and pooling of contributions from team members to make a composite product thereby ensuring that the primary goals of the team are achieved with ease.

In spite of the fact that there is no common agreement regarding the composition of cooperative learning, there are five aspects that stand out, which include group self-evaluation, face-to-face interaction, small group and interpersonal skills, individual accountability, and positive interdependence.

Problem-based learning

Problem-based learning focus on providing help to learners with the aim of developing flexible knowledge, intrinsic motivation, effective collaboration skills, self-directed learning skills, as well as effective problem-solving skills. As such, problem-based learning allows learners to acquire new information through self-directed learning. In this type of learning, the acquisition of problem-solving skills is determined by the problems at hand since the problems dictate how focused the learners are organized. Given that most of the learning is centered on the students, there is a high probability of the existence of small groups among the learners for discussion purposes.

Active learning

Active learning is defined as a form of instructional methodology, which provides learners with a platform for participative learning process. Such a description takes into consideration various traditional classroom events in learning like asking of questions, taking of notes and reflection by students during lectures.

The student-centered theories are very important in the flipped learning literature since they provide the necessary information justifying the existence and significance of flipped classroom. The absence of student-centered theories of learning would imply the inexistence of flipped learning in the education sector. As shown in the sections above, learning styles are applied based on the context in question. Evidently, the adoption of learner-center approach of learning encourages interaction which is a core element in flipped learning.

Pillars of Flipped Learning

According to the Flipped Learning Network, flipped learning has four pillars which include flexible environment, learning culture, intentional content, and professional educator. The figure below shows the pillars of flipped learning.

Pillars of flipped learning
Figure 1: Pillars of flipped learning

These pillars are discussed independently below.

Flexible environment

Flexibility is a very important aspect in flipped learning due to the fact that much of the classroom time is used on various activities (Hwang, Lai, & Wang 2015). For this reason, there ought to be flexibility in terms of the physical space (Flipped Learning Network 2014). For example, any furniture in the room such as chairs, tables and desks should be movable such that their original arrangement can be altered whenever need be in line with any activity being undertaken presently. In addition, flexibility is also necessary in terms of timelines since the learners spend most of their class time learning alone. The implication is that flipped learning ought to be less structured in terms of class time.

Learning culture

As opposed to the traditional learning model, the flipped learning methodology is based on a student-centered environment. For this reason, there is a need to change the expectations of the learners and their instructors. As such, instructors have the mandate to create activities that have varied meaning in the education of learners. According to Wallace (2014), it is the duty of the learners to be self-reliant instead of depending entirely on instructors’ learning materials.

Intentional content

Intentional content points to the concept whereby flipped learning requires instructors to prepare course materials that are in line with the objectives of the course. There is a need for instructors to directly teach some concepts, while other materials are better provided to the learners for them to explore during their own time. According to Flipped Learning Network (2014), it is important for instructors to make their judgment on what materials can be availed for learners’ own exploration and what can be directly taught as a way of maximizing classroom time.

Professional educator

Comparing traditional learning and a flipped classroom, it is more likely that a professional educator is more visible in a traditional classroom. This can be attributed to the fact that most of the learning in a flipped classroom is learner-centered. In spite of this, professional educators are very important in enhancing the efficiency of learning. Of importance in this case, is the fact that a flipped educator provides the necessary support to the learners by ensuring that they understand all the concepts in a particular subject. Such educators offer continuous feedback and advice, which points out the significance of professional educators being knowledgeable enough such that they can be highly productive in an uncertain and flexible learning environment.

Role of students and teachers in flipped learning

The concept of flipped learning requires the input of both the learners and the teachers. For this type of learning to be successful in any institutions, there is a need for the teachers to carry out complete redesign of the existing class model and structure to create a suitable environment for flipped classroom. This redesign involves the incorporation of in-class and out-of-class features. The fact that flipped learning is a new learning model; many teachers face a lot of challenges in their attempts to establish such a learning environment. This is attributable to the fact that many learners and teachers are used to the traditional learning environment whereby most of the class time is used for lectures while out-of-class events are carried out at home. For this reason, in order to have an effective learning environment based on the flipped learning, teachers and learners ought to put into consideration a number of factors. According to McGee (2012), such emphasis is necessary since for the learning to be effective, the learners must have access to quality instructional videos and other necessary presentation materials. As such, the videos used in a flipped classroom ought to be of high quality to ensure that learners have no problem grasping the concept being taught as well as they do not strain getting reading the words on the videos. The conciseness of the video design is a very important element that the teachers ought to put into consideration whenever embarking on the decision to adopt flipped learning. To achieve the recommended design, Bergmann and Sams (2012) proposed that a single video ought to cover one topic. In addition, it is important to ensure that the video does not last more than 15 minutes. In spite of this, teachers should also consider the succinctness of any video being used for presentation. Factors such as the level of learning and the content affect the succinctness of any given video. Nevertheless, the message presented in any given video should remain as short as possible to ensure that learners can watch the video over and over.

Secondly, teachers should establish what ought to be carried out during class time, as well as the events that are meant to occur out of the class. According to McGee (2012), the adoption of the flipped learning methodology requires the teachers to have the necessary knowledge and skills on how to offer the best learning experience. For this reason, teachers ought to be re-educated on aspects involving best practices and events that should be carried out in the class as well as out of the class. Much of the time in flipped classroom is used to offer explanations as well as facilitate self-learning among the students.

In addition, students are very instrumental in ensuring that flipped classroom model of learning is successful. For this to happen, the learners must have what it takes for them to succeed in such environment; including elements such as the necessary connectivity that allows them to watch the videos, various software and hardware. Bergmann and Sams (2012) pointed out that exclusive training on the students on aspects of flipped learning is needed since the learners are tasked with the responsibility of making the best out of such a learning experience. For this reason, it is important for educators and other stakeholders to ensure that the necessary guidelines are available for learners to use in order to effectively use the learning materials provided and videos. Following the introduction and the increased popularity of social media, it is important for teachers to have suitable mechanisms that deter learners from engaging in other media that might distract them in the course of their learning.

The cooperation between the teachers and students in a flipped classroom is very important since it determines the level of success of the approach (Hum, Maccaro, & Park 2014). As such, learners are required to have all the necessary materials as a means of motivation to use the flipped learning method. On the other hand, teachers ought to have confidence is their presentation and ensure that they have high-quality videos that encourage the learners. Such requires align with the assertion of Bergmann and Sams (2012) that a successful flipped learning experience is solely dependent on the willingness of the students to learn and the teachers to facilitate the learning.

Case studies

The adoption of the flipped learning model has been a subject of much concern within the education sector. Since the concept is new, there is the need to establish its applicability in the real life settings within the education sector. For this reason, this section reviews two case studies on flipped learning in order to provide more insights on the application of this type of learning.

Flipped learning in a predoctoral dental course

This case study involves the description of the use of flipped learning model in the promotion of student-centered learning in a predoctoral dental course. As such, a lot of emphasis in this case is given on the redesign of a blended learning approach based on the traditional lecture-style of learning (Park & Howell 2014). The case study focuses on the Harvard School of Dental Medicine whereby there was the introduction of flipped classroom approach in the dental anatomy course for the second-year students.

According to an educational report that was released by the U.S in 2010, it showed that there is a lot of difference in terms of learning efficiency between face-to-face learning, and online instructions (Park & Howell 2014). Much more difference was even evident when the two, face-to-face and online instructions models, were combined together, since such combination gave more positive results compared to either the use of instructions only or face-to-face approach. In the recent years, there have been cases of blended education proliferation. Allen and Seaman (2013) in their study showed that majority of the academic chief leaders (69.1%) had strong belief in the use of online learning as a very significant part of long-term educational approach.

The concept of blended learning integrates face-to-face activities with online activities in a classroom setting. For the student to have better learning experience, the blended learning initiative ought to have a clear vision (Hum, Maccaro & Park 2014). The flipped learning approach features the description of a blended learning strategy since the learners access online course materials prior to attending class, therefore ensuring that the learners and teachers can engage in discussions for better performance. Basically, the most important goal of flipped learning is to create a student-centered environment of learning by encouraging collaborative and active learning. In such a learning strategy, most of the emphasis is on the learner as opposed to the traditional approach whereby the focus was given to the teacher.

Park and Howell (2014) noted that the improvement in technology that instigated the continuous use of media to improve the learning outcomes of learners formed one of the bases for the development of Harvard School of Dental Medicine’s flipped classroom. In addition, such development can also be attributed to increased concern over the use of instructional design, as well as pedagogy. However, the ultimate objective of such a development is towards the production of learners who are self-directed such that they can still learn in the course of their profession.

The traditional lectures were redesigned in line with the requirements of the flipped classroom model including the development of course content as well as the consolidation of online materials that would be used by the learners before attending any class. The school established a database whereby the learners could either stream online or even download for later reference. Such an approach was based on the need to ensure that the students can access the course content whenever needed (Park & Howell 2014). In addition, the materials provided a chance for the students to access the materials prior to any class for the purpose of ensuring active participation in discussions and presentation during class time.

On the other hand, the school required the students to carry out a quiz that comprised on five questions in line with the course content. Such an approach was adopted to motivate the students to use the online content before attending any discussions in class. In addition, the use of the quiz helped the instructors to establish areas that required a lot of emphasis during class discussions as dictated by the performance of the learners.

The students were grouped into several teams to undertake various group projects, which served as reinforcement of learning during classroom time. Initially, the learners were allowed to work independently before forming small groups for collaborative practices. The group work allowed the students to apply logical and complex thinking skills (Park & Howell 2014). On the other hand, the instructors engaged the learners in games, cases, scenarios, interesting group projects to ensure that the classroom was highly interactive. Such activities were suitable for the instructor to determine the level of understanding of the learners as well as well which learning approach was best for the improvement of the learning outcomes of the students.

The target class comprised of 36 students, who were grouped in groups of nine, and the instructor providing learning materials to each group and assignments that were based on the class goals. For a given period, the learners were allowed to carry out the assignments independently before holding discussion as a group and presenting the project to the class. After the class exercises, the instructors carried out an assessment of the student learning (Park & Howell 2014). Additionally, a peer assessment was necessary for the creation of a peer-to-peer learning environment. The creation of such a learning activity was intended to encourage the learners to take part in projects as a team, which would boost their accountability and preparedness to classwork. Based on the content materials and the assessment carried out, a survey was carried out to evaluate the level of satisfaction among the learners as far as the flipped learning approach was concerned. This survey focused more on the feedback of the learners regarding the structure of the course, the activities they were involved, as well as any weaknesses and strengths of the flipped classroom model.

The survey was voluntary and thus only 32 out of 36 students took part in the survey, with the responses being gathered using a paper survey. According to the responses and the feedback provided by the students, it was possible to infer that flipped learning had some positive impact on the students’ learning outcomes. The results were evaluated and revealed that 40% of the population of the class had participated in the flipped course, with 85% of them pointing out that they had received a high level of satisfaction from the learning approach and would consider such courses in the future.

According to their responses, it was evident that flipped learning was very collaborative, interactive and more fun. When compared to the traditional learning approach, the students cited a lot of efficiency in the flipped classroom model over the traditional approach. Majority of the learners (84%) pointed out that the flipped learning model advocated for peer learning which was very effective as far maximizing class time use was concerned. On the other hand, 69% of the learners were more interested in the in-class events since they were highly collaborative (Park & Howell 2014). It was evident that there was a positive response among the students regarding the role of peer assessment in preparing the learners for class time. Majority of the students pointed out that peer assessment helped them in the preparation to attend classes beforehand. In addition, it was evident that the peer assessment was very instrumental in stimulating learners to take part in class events.

Nevertheless, there were a number of challenges that the students reported regarding the flipped classroom model. For example, several students encountered difficulties while accessing the online materials. Such difficulties were attributable to technological limitations on the side of the learners’ use of online tools. In addition, the redesign of the classroom faced several challenges, with some students reporting that they did not clearly hear others while they were presenting due to background noise. Also, it was evident that the discussions held in small groups were affected by lack of organization and the adoption of topics that were not in line with the course materials.

The development of this project in the Harvard Dental School aimed at introducing suitable means of conveying learning concepts creatively to the learners (Park & Howell 2014). As such, the project was examining some of the approaches that can be adopted in the school to ensure that the learning outcomes of students improved. Garrison and Vaughan (2008) pointed out that setting up institutional pedagogical goals plays a significant part in the provision of a clear vision of flipped learning in order to improve the learning outcomes of learners. Therefore, according to the results from the survey on the students of Harvard class of dental anatomy, it can be concluded that the adoption of the flipped learning in this school created an interactive atmosphere whereby the learners remained engaged with both in-class and out-of-class activities.

Flipped learning in higher education chemistry

This case study focuses on the adoption of flipped learning in higher education chemistry, which is the main objective of the research. According to the views of Seery (2015), flipped learning has become popular over the past few years based on its approach of developing an active learning environment for students. This case study looks at some of the reports that have been published on flipped learning use in teaching chemistry at the university levels. By carrying out such reviews, the case study examines the adoption of flipped learning in higher education chemistry. According to a review of numerous articles conducted by O’Flaherty and Phillips (2015), it was evident that the staff in most institutions was limited to design, implementation and the evaluation of flipped learning. There have been a lot of concerns over the significance of flipped learning in the education system. Given the increasing popularity of flipped learning, it has now become important to fix the flipped learning in the educational framework context. The cognitive theory is founded on the idea that the learning process has a lot of effect on the working memory of a human being.

Based on this view, it can be considered that materials that are new to an individual will have an enormous and intrinsic impact, which will is determined by the implicit delivery. On the other hand, an extraneous load is dependent on the level of difficultness that an individual faces in extracting content from a given learning material. Basing the argument on the finite space of an individual’s working memory, it is evident that only an insignificant space is left to process new information considering the substantial nature of extraneous and intrinsic load. For this reason, the degree of learning becomes very low. The introduction of materials before the onset of a lecture has been considered to be a suitable approach to reduce cognitive load among students, and has some foundation in chemistry. According to Abeysekera and Dawson (2015), it is possible to reduce the cognitive load as well as assist learners in a flipped learning approach since the learners are allowed ample time to go through various class materials before attending a lecture.

On the other hand, Byers and Eilks (2009) noted that educators continuously get frustrated due to the fact that they over rely on a single pedagogic strategy of teaching especially in the case of chemistry education. Such predominance can be attributed to the fact that the chemistry faculty only accepts a teaching model that is rigorous, coherent and viable in terms of content delivery to the learners. In spite of this, there have been concerns that the introduction bit of chemistry can be taught through a methodology, which aims at covering a lot of content in a way that can be considered to be disconnected. For this reason, Bennett and Overton (2010) noted that any form of developments are only noticeable as piecemeal and tend to lack the necessary impact and cohesion. The adoption and the implementation of flipped learning in the chemistry literature has been slow, a factor that explains its state of lagging being the literature of other subjects like the mathematics, engineering, health sciences, among many more others (Abeysekera & Dawson 2015). Several institutions of higher learning and schools have carried severally to adopt flipped learning in chemistry.

Rationale for flipped learning in higher education chemistry

There are a number of articles that offer insights on the rationale for the adoption of flipped learning in the higher education chemistry. According to the article reviewed in this case study; it was evident that none provided any rationale for the adoption of flipped learning. In spite of such findings, Christiansen (2014) pointed out that the only motivation for the adoption of flipped learning in the higher education chemistry can be based on the need to have high quality learning experience. In the case of organic chemistry, the adoption of flipped learning methodology was seen as a means towards the provision of enough time that can be used by both the learners and the teachers to cover the course content fully, as well as have enough time for the learners and the teachers to discuss any class assignments as a group (Fautch 2015; Rossi 2015). On other circumstances, Yestrebsky (2015) and Fitzgerald and Li (2015) pointed out that the adoption of flipped learning in some institutions was based on the need to try out new learning approach. Flynn (2015) provides a theoretical framework that is highly detailed on the rationale for flipped learning based on constructivism. According to Flynn (2015), flipped learning classroom provides enough time for learners to gain knowledge and skills within a classroom setting. In addition to this, Seery (2015) noted that flipped learning has a high potential of ensuring a reduction in in-class cognitive load.

Flipped Learning Approaches

Bergmann and Sams (2012) pointed out that flipped model of learning is more of a philosophy that a mere teaching approach. This case study examined events that were carried out at various intervals in the course of flipped learning. Many researchers and scholars, who advocate for the adoption of flipped learning in higher education chemistry, opined that learners ought to have access to course content materials in the form of videos, web-pages, text-books among others. However, according to the survey, most of the learners only had access to screencasts, which refer to PowerPoint recordings accompanied with voice narration (Seery 2015). Such screencasts were available in various sites that are used for sharing videos like institutional virtual sites or even the YouTube. The review noted that there is the need for teachers and institutions in general to provide a schedule to learners for a consistent and clear structure of learning (Seery 2015; Flynn 2015; Fitzgerald & Li 2015). According to Christiansen (2014), institutions that have the learning materials in external sharing sites have a high chance of benefiting the institutions and the learners from comments made by external users. A review of the length of the screencast revealed that they were shorter in comparison to the actual lecture time. Such findings can be attributed to the fact traditional classroom take a lot of times as learners settle in classes, attend to queries, as well as other in-class activities. Various article recorded variation in the preparation time for flipped lectures as well as the length of video used in presentation.

Due to the fact that learners in flipped learning model are required to have access to course material before class time, it becomes important to incentivize pre-lecture work. Such objective can be achieved through assessing the learners after they go through video presentation of class content (Fautch 2015). The assessment can be in the form of a quiz taken before class of during class time, as this would encourage the students to be attentive to the lecture presentation and any other materials that they gain access to before class time. In addition, the assessment of the students whether in class of before attending the class was considered as a way to ensure that there learners remained at all the time prepared for class.

During the lecture, the proponents of flipped learning point out the ability of this model of learning to engage the students in in-class activities such as discussions and answering of questions. Several reports have indicated that the most dominant activity in the course of a lecture is the solving of problems that the students might have encountered in their self-study outside the classroom. Fautch (2015) prefers students taking organic chemistry to discuss their problems in groups and provide their answers to the entire class. Smith (2013) considered the presentation of worked examples on general chemistry to the students as a suitable approach to make use of the lecture time. Such a strategy would be accompanied by problems for the learners to tackle. Flynn (2015), on the other hand, assessed the performance of the students in pre-class assignments and provided the class with clicker questions that resembled the poorly answered ones from the pre-class assessment. Such an approach would act as a bridge between in-class activities and pre-class activities, which was supported by other authors such as Seery (2015) and Fautch (2015). There were several authors who encouraged group work in the course of a lecture. Nevertheless, such approach was considered a formal part of module assessment in some cases. For example, Christiansen (2014) noted that some teachers used peer-assessment as a percentage of the overall mark in any given module.

The surveyed articles did not show common activities that were carried out after class. However, Flynn (2015) provides a description on the issuance of assignments after class, with such assignments being considered highly challenging when compared with the pre-class assignments. Such assessments are meant to test the thinking capacity of the learners with respect to course content covered in class and before attending the class. On the other hand, Smith (2013) preferred the students to tackle online homework based on the textbook material.

Flipped Lecture Evaluation

There have been a lot of concerns regarding the significance of flipped model of learning in the education system. It is important for any learning model to be evaluated in order to determine whether or not it can work. For a learning model to be effective, a lot of changes are expected in various aspects of learning including improving the level of satisfaction among teachers and students, improving examination grades, adding learning outcomes, as well as developing the independence of learners, etc. In the consideration of lecture flipping especially in higher education chemistry, two perspectives were very important. The first perspective is the level of satisfaction of the students based on the new learning approach, and secondly, the benefits of the new approach.

The opinions of the students were factored in the evaluation of the lecture flipping in all the articles provided for the survey. Majority of the articles revealed that most of the learners liked the new approach of lecture flipping. According to a survey carried out by Smith (2013) on students taking general chemistry, majority of the respondents (81%) reported that the flipped learning approach was highly useful and enlightening. Yeung and O’Malley (2014) discovered that a great percentage of fourth year students (85%) and second year students (74%) favored the adoption of the flipped learning approach over the traditional model of learning.

According to the survey, it was evident that students were comfortable accessing course materials during their free time which is attributable to either in-lecture or pre-lecture assessment. Nevertheless, it was evident that the students actively accessed the materials as expected before attending any class. This was depicted in improvement in the performance of learners in quiz and other assignments. According to Seery (2015), majority of the students, (90%), were consistent in the use of the screencasts before attending classes. Fautch (2015) reported that there was a high level of efficiency in the use of screencasts before attempting any in-class assignment. Smith (2013), on the other hand, examined the learners opinion regarding the length of the videos used by for the flipped learning and reported that the length was appropriate but most of the learners were reluctant to watch long videos.

The flipped learning approach proved to be effective in that it provided the opportunity for the learners to actively engage in discussions and lecture materials in most of the cases, which encouraged the learners to study extra hard. According to Smith (2013), majority of the students used the provided videos for their preparation. In spite of the fact that the students seemed to like the flipped learning approach, Seery (2015) noted that it took some time for the learners to develop such interest. As such, it is important for educators to be aware of the issues and challenges that learners are likely to face in the course of adapting to the flipped learning model.

Sentiments have been expressed over the likelihood of improved learning following the adoption of flipped lectures. In most of the cases, such improvement was measured through assessment of examination performance. Nevertheless, there are other ways that can be used to measure the significance of flipped learning. According to the surveyed articles, exam scores were based on the course work, with the results being divided evenly. According to the analysis carried out by Fautch (2015), for organic chemistry 1 students, there was an observable change in the distribution of grades. The results showed a drop in learners with grade 3.5, and a significant increase in students having grades 3.0 and 4.0. Such results can be explained by the fact that flipped learning provided encouragement for students who find the course to be highly challenging to them, and hence the increase in the lower grades. On the other hand, learners who perform excellently are likely to boost their performance upon the adoption of the flipped learning as depicted in the positive change in learners with higher grades.

Evidently, flipped learning approach has brought some significant changes in the education system as observed in the case reviewed. A great percentage of learners from the article reviewed preferred the flipped learning approach over the traditional model of learning. Such high preference can be attributed to the structure of the flipped classroom that allows active participation in in-class and outside-class activities and the access to course materials prior to attending any class. In addition, the flipped learning model allows students to engage with their lecturers unlike in the case of traditional lecture-based approach.

Advantages and Disadvantages of flipped approach

The incorporation of technology in the education sector has had a lot of positive effect as far as the performance and educational outcomes are concerned. As numerous schools and higher education institutions adopt new technology, learners are becoming equally connected through electronic devices such as PC, laptops and smartphones. Such avenue has created room for the adoption of flipped learning in higher education institutions. There are numerous advantages and disadvantages of adopting flipped learning in higher education, which are discussed below.

Advantages

There are various advantages associated with the adoption and implementation of flipped learning in institutions of higher education. For example, a study carried out Seery (2015) noted that flipped learning approach is very effective in the improvement of the performance of learners. This is attributed to the fact that the methodology allows students to access study materials online at a time convenient to them. Such an avenue ensures that the learners can study the course materials at their own speed as well as use them in the preparation to attend classes. The fact that the learners have access to the study materials whenever they want helps the teachers to provide the students with instructions, while at the same time allowing them to make any enquiries regarding concepts that they do not understand from the lecture videos.

Flipped learning, according to Bergmann and Sams (2012), gives the learners an opportunity to get more time through which they can engage in discussions with other learners. Such an approach allows the learners to enjoy a great experience in learning which ensuring that they enhance teamwork abilities. Peer learning allows learners to share ideas and help one another in understanding of learning concepts. On the other hand, the availability of study materials through lecture videos is a suitable way of ensuring that the students do not have any distractions. Having such materials in videos ensures that the learners can get access of those materials whenever they need them especially in the preparation for exams.

Peer learning and the use of video lectures are some of the significant features of flipped learning approach. Bergmann and Sams (2012) noted that using such approaches ensures that the learners can clearly remember concepts they learnt from friends or from videos lectures. In addition, it is more likely that watching lectures online helps the leaners to come up with questions that they can ask during class discussions or peer assessment.

Foldnes (2016) pointed out there are various events that tend to affect the learning schedule of learners especially in the case of the traditional model of learning. However, in the case of the flipped learning model, such events like sickness do not affect the ability of students to learn since they can access all the materials online and catch up with the fellow classmates during the time when they were not in class.

On the other hand, learners in flipped classroom can get access to rich video content especially in cases whereby various teachers teach a similar course in the same. This is important as the learners are able to gain access to different styles of teaching hence increasing their subject comprehension.

Disadvantages

Even though there are numerous advantages of flipped learning, several researchers have noted that there are disadvantages. The flipped learning approach only avails materials online for the learners to use for preparation. In spite of such approach being effective for the purpose of the learners using the materials at their own time, there is no evidence that such materials are effectively used by the learners. This, in a way tends to demotivate the teachers. Nevertheless, Seery (2015) pointed out that teachers should often have assessments based on the online materials in order to ensure that the learners access the learning materials availed through videos and online.

Secondly, the flipped learning approach is faulted for lack of instant feedback. Most teachers in traditional learning are used to ascertaining the comprehension of learners based on their facial expression as well as how they ask or answer questions. Lack of such feedback is missing in the flipped learning affects the motivation of teachers to create and provide materials to learners.

On the other hand, flipped learning requires the availability of electronic devices that can be used to access the online course materials (Bergmann & Sams 2015). In most of the cases, learners tend to get distracted from the university websites to other social networking sites, spending a lot of time in non-constructive sites.

Techniques of controlling disadvantages

The disadvantages associated with the flipped learning approach can be eliminated through the implementation of strong measures. For example, the institutions’ administration can block all social sites from students’ access so that they can only access course-related materials (Bergmann & Sams 2012). Such a strategy would ensure that the learners do not waste any time doing unconstructive work, and that they can maximize on the available time.

Secondly, teachers can design assessment surveys aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of learning materials and the satisfaction of learners with any materials provided to the learners (Seery 2015). Such surveys would ensure that the teachers can deal with any challenges that the students might face in the flipped learning.

Chapter Summary

The review of literature was very comprehensive and focused on scholarly sources that covered the concept of flipped learning adoption in higher education. The literature review was aimed at providing insights into the subject of adoption of flipped learning, with a lot of focus on the objectives of the study which included establishing the advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses of flipped learning adoption in higher education chemistry. The findings from the review of the literature on flipped learning are discussed further in chapter five alongside results from the survey for a chance to shed more light on the study phenomenon.

Research Design and Methodology

The concept of flipped learning has raised a lot of interest over the past decades following the need for improved educational performance among learners. For this reason, many researchers and scholars have embarked on studies aimed at the determination of the significance of flipped learning methodology in the higher education. With the introduction of the new learning approach, many institutions have focused on changing the traditional lecture-based classroom to flipped classroom. This has called for a change in the learning model that many learners and teachers are used to. As evident in the previous chapters, the primary aim of this study is to explore the adoption and implementation of flipped learning in higher education chemistry in order to determine the role of educators and students in the implementation of flipped learning, the pros and cons of adopting flipped learning, as well as the challenges affecting its implementation. Based on the objectives of this study, the research design and methodology chapter offers the path that the research follows to provide the necessary answers to the research questions identified in chapter one. As such, the chapter highlights the possible limitations of the study, the research design, and the research philosophy adopted in examining the concept of flipped learning in higher education chemistry.

Research Methodology

Any research follows a given methodology, which comprises of the strategy that a researcher adopts in collecting, recording and analyzing data. Research methodology is considered to be a very important part of any research work as it offers practical techniques that can be followed in the identification, collection and analysis of data. Additionally, research methodology provides the justification for the choice of a given procedure. Denk (2010) defines a research methodology as the systematic activities, which a researcher applies in collecting data on a particular study. Such a process is very important as it highlights the possibility of achieving the purpose of any particular study. Various research designs are incorporated in a study methodology to ensure efficiency in the process of collecting and analyzing data. Researchers and readers can only understand the focus of a given study by examining the study’s design. Some of the commonly used research design examples are the explorative research design, the experimental research design, the cross-sectional research design and the descriptive research design. However, the selection of a given research design for any given study is determined by a number of factors such as the phenomenon being studied and the required data for the study, whether quantitative or qualitative. In most cases, many researchers tend to combine qualitative and quantitative methods.

In the light of Dixon (2005), any research involves the investigation of a phenomenon that is unknown for the purpose of gaining insights into a number of factors that help to explain the phenomenon under study. The success of such a process entails the collection of valid and reliable data for carrying out the necessary correlations. For example, in the case of the current study, the focus of the research is on the investigation of the concept of flipped learning and its application in higher education chemistry. The primary concern in this case is to gain the necessary knowledge about the adoption of flipped learning in higher education chemistry.

Based on the scope of the study, combining qualitative and quantitative methods can be a suitable approach towards achieving the objectives of the study. Additionally, the study can adopt a number of research designs. In spite of this, and considering the research questions formulated to provide the guidelines of the study, the choice of the research design to be used should take into consideration the research questions identified for the purpose of ensuring that all the necessary parts of the study are covered as expected. Sans (2011) offers the basis for research design selection by pointing out that a suitable research methodology should take into consideration the logic behind any steps, which a given researcher employs. Silverman (2006), on the other hand, noted that research methods define the techniques applied by a research in the execution of a given study.

The use of the mixed methods approach is based on the rationale that the research on the concept of flipped learning in chemistry seeks to examine the significance of applying flipped learning in teaching chemistry at the university level. Such a rationale aligns with the assertion of Denk (2010) that any research process involves the adoption of suitable measures for the purpose of unearthing unknown features of a given phenomenon. Additionally, Denk (2010) pointed out that a research provides the necessary platform to understand a given phenomenon. Therefore, to achieve the objectives of the study, credible sources of data are required.

Research Philosophy

Scientific of social studies are aimed at the discovery of rationale behind a given phenomenon. The implication is that such studies focus on providing answers to various questions about a given societal problem or phenomenon. As pointed out by Weber (2004), research philosophy makes use of scientific procedures in finding out certain truth about a concerned scenario, problem or phenomenon. There are two types of philosophical paradigms, which are commonly used in scientific studies; the interepretivism and the positivism. The difference between these two research paradigms is that while the positivism involves the use of natural sciences’ methods in measuring constructs, the interpretivism paradigm basis its approach on idealism to measure constructs. Proponents of the Interpretivism approach base their understanding of social phenomenon on reasons and meaning; an approach that can be considered to oppose the positivist view whereby social phenomenon are described based on natural objectivity. According to Weber (2004), it is important to use the qualitative approach, which make use of the interpretivism paradigm whenever examining a study phenomenon in relation to human construct. In spite of this, there are cases whereby researchers consider combining the positivism and the interpretivism can paradigms.

Usually, the primary objective of any study is to offer a platform to extensively understand a given phenomenon. In the case of the current study, the primary phenomenon being investigated has been instigated by the increased debates on the adoption of flipped learning approach in institutions of higher learning. Often, teachers are interested in a model of teaching that will ensure improved performance of the learners in class as well as preparing them for future life. This assertion explains the high level of concern regarding the use of flipped model of learning in institutions nowadays; teachers are aiming at a learning approach that will boost the academic performance of learners as well as ensure that the course content is covered extensively within the shortest time possible. Examining, the features of flipped learning the study will be in a position to provide grounds for deeper understanding of the entire concept. For example, empirical data and theories can be used in inquiring on the phenomenon under investigation, implying that the interpretivism and positivism approaches are suitable in this study.

Research Strategy

There are two types of research, which include the quantitative and qualitative research. The decision to use a particular research strategy is determined by the required information and the subject under investigation. The philosophical paradigm above has showed that both the interpretivism and positivism approaches can be used in this study. The implication is that the study will use both qualitative and quantitative research strategies in analyzing the concept of flipped learning in higher education chemistry. The qualitative research is defined as a research strategy that focuses on gaining the understanding of a given phenomenon through motivations and opinions. As such, qualitative research strategy does not focus on the use of numerical data to make inferences. According to Silverman (2006), the qualitative approach uncovers opinions and thoughts of a given phenomenon in order to provide understanding of the given study phenomenon. In addition, the qualitative research approach offers a suitable platform to understand issues being studied, and puts a lot of emphasis on primary sources of data like the use of focus group discussions, participation, interviews and observation. However, the use of any of these methods depends on the feasibility and type of data. The qualitative method of data collection to be used in the current study is the interviews. The quantitative research strategy is defined as the use of empirical data for making inferences. Such data is manipulated according to the given research objectives. Dixon (2005) noted that the application of the quantitative research strategy is based on the need to quantify defined variables such as behaviors, attitudes among other variables. The implication is that the quantitative research strategy makes use of measurable data in uncovering patterns adopted in a given study. Contrary to the qualitative strategy, quantitative research approaches follow a given structure in the process of collecting the required data on any given research phenomenon. Some of the methods of collecting data that fall under the quantitative research strategy include systematic observations, online pools, longitudinal studies, and surveys. Quantitative research approach uses larger samples in comparison to the samples used in the qualitative studies.

Rationale for mixed methods approach

The mixed methods research refers to the procedures of carrying out a research which entails the collection, analysis and the integration of qualitative and quantitative research into a single study to inquiry on a given phenomenon. The primary objective of adopting such an approach is that by combining the two approaches, the research is in a better position to understand a research problem as compared to the use of a single research strategy. The scope of the data required for this study necessitated the use of both the quantitative and qualitative research approaches. For the example, the decision to use this type of research approach was based on the need to make use of both inductive and deductive approaches.

While the inductive approach examines a new phenomenon, the deductive approach puts more emphasis on causality. The implication is that the inductive approach examines research phenomena based on a new perspective (Dixon 2005). The use of the mixed methods approach in this study would allow variation in the collection of the required data for a chance to greater validity of the data. Secondly, the mixed methods data approach ensures that any research questions are answered based on various perspectives from both the quantitative and qualitative views. In addition, using the mixed methods research approach in the examination of the concept of flipped learning will ensure that the information and data collected will have no ‘gaps’ and avoids the availability of preexisting assumptions. Such cases can be attributed to the fact that the use of the two research approaches ensures that one research strategy supplements the other in the provision of all required information for the study.

Research Design

Denzin and Lincoln (2008) define a research design as the plan that a researcher highlights in collecting data about a given phenomenon, as well as the analysis of the collected data for the purpose of drawing inferences. Such a process is very important in the achievement of any given study’s objectives. Different types of research designs exist and are applied with respect to the required data and the scope of a study. In the case of the current study, a lot of emphasis is on providing answers to how and why questions and hence, explorative research design is best suited for this study. The introduction of flipped learning in the higher education is aimed at increasing the quality of education, boosting the academic performance of the students and making effective use of class time. For this reason, there is a need for effective research design that can be used in analyzing the concept of flipped learning as used in higher education chemistry.

Rationale for the use of the explorative study design

The adoption explorative research in any given study allows the study to gain quality information about the subject being investigated. This is attributed to the fact that the exploratory research design is used whenever a researcher hopes to discover various ideas and insights into a given research problem under study. With respect to the current study, flipped learning has gain popularity in the higher education. Due to the fact that such nature of the learning model, which is different from the traditional learning model, there is need for educators and learners to have a clear understanding of the key issues in relation to the emerging learning model. Such understanding will be very useful for the learners and educators to make informed decisions as far as the learning method of their choice is concerned. For this reason, the explorative research design will provide the platform to answer research questions on flipped learning. Such answers are likely to be provided by learners and the educators who have experienced the traditional and flipped learning to compare their quality in terms of content delivery and overall educational outcomes.

Sampling Design and study’s sample

Sampling refers to the process of identifying units or objects to be used in any given study to enhance the collection of the required data. In this study, the primary focus of sampling is revolves around the identification of the sources of information on the concept of flipped learning in higher education chemistry. Even though there are numerous sources of data for such a study, it is quite impossible to make use an entire study’s population. This explains the significance of sampling in a study; it helps in acquiring a section of a given target population that is used in providing the required data for eh purpose of making the necessary conclusions about a study phenomenon. Neumann (2007) defines the sampling process as a procedure that is adopted in the selection of a target population’s subset for analysis. Denzin and Lincoln (2008) added that an effective methodology ought to make use of a highly representative sample. Achieving such a sample requires effective definition of population being targeted, sampling method to be used, as well as the determination of the sample size required for the study. The implication is that the researcher should have prior knowledge of the units or objects and area from which to collect the required information. Some of the commonly used types of sampling methods include the multistage random sampling, the simple, random sampling, stratified random sampling and purposive sampling.

Since the study focuses on the use of primary data, the purposive sampling technique will be used. In this case, various students and teachers who have had the experience of flipped learning will be used to provide the necessary information as per the study’s objectives. Sans (2011) pointed out the adoption of the purposive sampling technique in any study is preferred for its discriminatory feature as it allows the researcher the discretion of identifying subjects or units to be used in the given study. As such, in the case of the current study, the purposive sampling will be very instrumental in identifying the students and teachers to be interviewed. In spite of the significance of the purposive sampling technique, it is disadvantageous in that its efficiency can be affected by personal bias in the process of selecting participants in any given study.

Nevertheless, the purposive sampling technique is very important especially in a study that focuses on gaining specific information from a given individual. In the case of this study, information on the significance of flipped learning in the higher education chemistry is needed from teachers and students who have experienced such a method of learning. As technology advances, a high demand for better education outcomes has been noted. In spite of this, it has become clear that the traditional approach of teaching misses a lot based on the amount of time allocated to chemistry classes given that students are required to gain particular concepts in chemistry practically. As such, many educators have realized the need for improved learning model such as the flipped learning. The implication is that only people who have experienced flipped learning can provide the necessary information about it for the purpose of carrying out the necessary analysis. Therefore, the complexity of the subject in terms of educational outcomes and the role of learners and educators are the basis for the required information for the study; hence, the rationale behind the use of the purposive sampling.

Sample frame

The sample frame in any study provides a description of the attributes of the target population, which is being studied. Denk (2010) asserted that the sampling frame is a representation of the working sample. For this reason, it is important for the researcher to be very careful whenever deciding on the sample frame in order to ensure a representative sample is used. As pointed out earlier, the purposive sampling method will be used in this study, which implies that the study participants will be limited to teachers and students with the necessary experience in flipped learning for the purpose of providing the right information. Therefore, the sampling frame for this study will take consideration of the teachers and students who have been in a flipped classroom for a long period. As such, the inclusion criteria will focus on students and teachers with flipped learning experience of preferably not less than one year.

Sample size

A sample size in any study is described as the section of the target population to be used in providing the required data about a given study phenomenon (Denzin & Lincoln 2008). The determination of the sample size is based on the type of the data that is needed in the study for the purpose of ensuring substantive information is collected, which can be used in drawing meaningful conclusions. In this study, the researcher is at liberty to select the study participants based on their knowledge of flipped learning. As such, the study projects to use 150 study participants. The sample size in this case, will include teachers and learners who have the necessary experience and knowledge on the phenomenon under study.

Methods of collecting data

The collection of valid and reliable data for any given study is highly depended on the data collection instruments that a researcher adopts. This can be attributed to the fact that the right instruments for data collection provide the background through which the actual research is based. There are various data collection methods. As such, the choice of a given method of data collection is determined by the researcher, data collection points, and the research strategies. The present study will use questionnaires to collect the required data on flipped learning. The implication is that the study will focus entirely on primary sources of data, which aligns with the qualitative approach. Therefore, the primary source of data in this case will involve getting information through questionnaires from the selected study participants.

Gill (2008) defines primary sources as type of data sources that bear first-hand information about a given study phenomenon. According to Silverman (2006), the use of primary sources of data has a very significant role in any study. As such, it is important for researchers to make use of the right data collection techniques in order to ensure validity, reliability and accuracy of the collected information. In spite of this, it is important to note that the use of primary sources of data alone can lead to invalid information due to the possibility of personal bias. Nevertheless, the personal bias can be overcome through the use of a data collection instrument that is effectively designed alongside a pilot study to gauge the effectiveness of the data collection instrument. Various methods are adopted in the collection of primary data such as the use of interviews, personal narratives, trial transcripts, experiments, surveys and observation. This study will make use of questionnaires to collect the required data for the study.

Justification for the use of questionnaires/interviews

As pointed out earlier, there are several data collection instruments that can be used in gathering data from primary sources. Questionnaires are data collection instruments that use a list of questions based on the objectives of the given study. On the other hand, interviews involve one-on-one discussion between an informant and the interviewer. The use of both the interviews and questionnaires in this study aligns with the study’s mixed methods approach of collecting data. The interviews can be collected through teleconferencing or on a personal basis. The decision to use interviews and questionnaires in this study was based on the need to collect in-depth data regarding the significance of using flipped learning model in higher education chemistry. Denzin and Lincoln (2008) pointed out interviews serve as suitable data collection instruments especially in collecting data on individuals’ perception, attitudes, outcomes and experiences on a given phenomenon under study. The interviews will be guided interviews due to the fact that the study aims at getting particular information from the study participants such as the advantages and disadvantage of using flipped learning in higher education chemistry.

Data Analysis

In any study, the collected data is synthesized to find how the information can be used in deeper understanding of the study phenomenon. According to Dixon (2005), data analysis refers to the procedures and techniques applied in cleaning, transformation and modelling of the collected data with the aim of preparing information that can be used in making conclusions. Various tools of data analysis can be adopted in any study including the use of statistical software such as MS Excel functions and advanced tools like the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). Mixed methods studies synthesize collected data using various approaches. However, direct interpretation of the collected data, alongside the use of MS Excel will be very instrumental in providing the interpretation of the collected information.

Limitations

In any research, the collection data for analysis is considered to be the practical section of carrying out any study, which involves several limiting factors that can lead to invalid data. For example, a researcher might have challenges reaching the target study participants, or even lack the necessary resources to carry out the proposed study. The problem of reaching all the identified respondents for the study is one of the limitations in this study. Secondly, the choice of the individuals to participate in the study is based purposive sampling which is subject to personal bias. However, as pointed out earlier, such challenges will be eliminated by carrying out a pilot study and the use of well-designed interviews as well as clear and simple questions.

Conclusion

The research design and methodology chapter has outlined the various techniques and procedures to be used in examining the concept of flipped learning in the higher education chemistry. According to this section, explorative research design is much preferred based on the context and scope of the study. On the other hand, the use of both the positivist and interpretivism philosophical paradigms and mixed methods approach was proposed due to the need for valid, reliable and accurate data that can be used to draw meaningful inferences. In general, the study adopts the purposive sampling in the process of identifying the appropriate data sources. The chapter also indicated that semi structured interviews and questionnaires will be used for the purpose of collecting the required data for the study. According to the methodology section, it was evident that target population for this study is teachers and learners with experience on flipped learning. The collection data will be analyzed and compared with literature review findings for comprehensive conclusion.

Data Collection, Analysis and Findings

Flipped learning has raised a lot of interest in the recent years among teachers, learners, and researchers following its perceived significance in improving the learning outcomes of learners. In spite of such perception, there is still limited knowledge and understanding regarding the use of flipped learning in higher education. Therefore, this study was carried out with various aims including to explore the challenges and barriers of adopting and implementing flipped learning in chemistry at higher education, determine a best practice of flipped learning, establish some of the advantages and disadvantages of adopting flipped learning approach in higher education, as well as find out the weaknesses and strengths of the flipped learning in MSc. The study focused on the use of both primary and secondary data in the analysis of the concept of flipped learning in higher education setting. As such, various studies that cover this topic were reviewed for a chance to shed more light on the subject.

In addition, the study carried out a survey on a number of selected students and teachers in order to find out their perspectives, opinions and experiences regarding the adoption of flipped learning in higher education chemistry. The selection of the study participants was based on the purposive sampling technique that focuses on researcher’s judgment of the individuals to be included in a study based on their capability to provide specific information about the study phenomenon. The decision to use the purposive sampling method was based on the fact that the study required specific information on flipped learning such as its advantages and disadvantages, from specific individuals. As noted earlier, the purposive sampling technique is very effective whenever specific information about a given research phenomenon is needed. The central data collection instrument in this case was the use of questionnaires. Such a data collection instrument was preferred over others due to its worth in collecting first-hand data on respondents’ opinions, perspectives, and experiences. This section of the dissertation covers the data analysis and presentation part in an attempt to present the collected data in a manner that can be to draw meaningful inferences regarding the adoption of flipped learning in higher education chemistry.

Respondents’ Data

This section provides a summary of the data of the study participants such as the number of respondents used in the study, age, gender among other features. The sample for this study was 150, and comprised of teachers and students with prior experience in flipped learning. The selection of the teachers and students to take part in this study was based on an inclusion criterion that focused on study participants who had at least a year of experience in flipped learning. In addition, the study emphasized on getting the required information on flipped learning from teachers and students only. The target population for the study was higher education institutions in the U.S. As such, 150 questionnaires were distributed to the target population and collected back for analysis. While 150 questionnaires were distributed, only 145 of them were returned for analysis. As such, the questionnaires that were collected back were reviewed to ascertain whether or not they were suitable for data analysis. The review of these questionnaires showed that only 140 of the collected 145 questionnaires were suitable for use in the study. The rest (5), which accounted for 3% of the total questionnaires were not suitable for the study since they contained missing data, while others were filled incorrectly. For this reason, the data analysis provided in this study is based on 140 responses, accounting for 93.3% of the total distributed questionnaires, as indicated in the table below.

Table 1: Data on study questionnaires

Entries Percentage
Distributed questionnaires 150 100%
Collected questionnaires 145 96.7%
Questionnaires suitable for analysis 140 93.3%

Study participants’ gender classification

The questionnaires use in this study had a section that required the study participants to fill their gender. The study used a total of 140 study participants. All the 140 study participants filled this section, implying 100% response rate. The study participants comprised of 80 males and 60 females, as showed in table 2, below. The number of males (75) represented 53.6% of the total study participants, while the female respondents accounted for 46.4% of the total participants of the study. The table below provides a summary of the study participants in terms of their gender.

Table 2: Gender of the study participants

Gender Entries Percentage Cumulative percentage
Male 75 53.6% 53.6%
Female 65 46.4% 100%
Total 140 100.00

Evidently, the sample size comprised of a higher number of male participants in comparison to the number of females. Regardless, it is almost an even distribution in gender considering that the difference of 5, accounted for an insignificant percentage of 7.2% of the total study participants. The above data on the gender of the study participants was plotted in a graph as shown in the figure below.

Gender of the study participants
Figure 2: Gender of the study participants

Gender and career cross tabulation of the respondents

The study also examined the gender and career representation of the study sample. A review of the study participants showed that the study sample used in this case comprised of teachers and students as required by the study criteria. Out of the 140 respondents, 100 were students, who accounted for 71.4% of the total study participants. On the other hand, the teachers were 40, representing 28.6% of the total study participants. Out of the 100 students, 56 were male and 44 were females, accounting for 56% and 44% respectively of the total number of students in the sample size. On the other hand, the study sample comprised of 19 male, and 21 female teachers, accounting for 47.5% and 52.5%, respectively of the total number of teachers in the study sample. The table below summarizes the number of male and female teachers and students used in the study.

Table 3: Gender and career cross tabulation of the respondents

Gender Male Female
Students 56 44
Teachers 19 21
Total 75 65

The above data was presented in a graph as shown below.

Gender and career cross tabulation of the respondents
Figure 3: Gender and career cross tabulation of the respondents

According to the graph above, there were more male students than the female ones in the study sample. On the other hand, the number of female teachers exceeded the male ones. However, in general, the study sample comprised of high number of males than females. In spite of this, it was evident that the composition of the study sample, in terms of teachers and students appropriate for the collection of comprehensive data on the concept of flipped learning in higher education chemistry.

Ages of the respondents

The study participants’ ages were examined. The consideration of the age was based on the need to assess the maturity of the feedback provided since it was believed that advancement in ages comes with maturity. It was evident that all the study participants were above 18 years of age. The table below shows a summary of the respondents’ ages.

Table 4: Ages of respondents

Age in years Count Percentage Cumulative Percentage
18-30 85 60.7% 60.7%
31-40 40 28.6% 89.3%
41-50

Above 50

10

5

7.1%

3.6%

96.4%

100.0%

Total 140 100.0%

The study sample comprised of eighty five study participants who were aged between 18 and 30 years, forty aged between 31 and 40, ten aged between 41 and 50 and five aged above 50 years. Evidently, majority of the study participants were aged between 18 and 30 years, and represented 60.7% of the total study participants. This was in line with the fact that majority of the study participants were higher education students. The above data was presented in the form of a graph as shown in the figure below.

Ages of respondents
Figure 4: Ages of respondents

Respondents’ years of flipped learning experience

Experience in flipped learning was one of the factors of consideration when selecting the study participants. As such, it was necessary to examine the level of experience that the participants of the study had with respect to flipped learning. It was expected that the study participants should have at least one year of experience in flipped learning. Majority of the study participants (42.9%) had 2 to 3 years of experience followed by 25% who had more than four years of experience in flipped classroom. It was also evident no respondent had less than one year of experience in flipped learning as required by the inclusion criteria. The study percipients with four years and above were teachers. The respondents’ data on their level of experience in flipped classroom is presented in the table below.

Table 5: Level of respondents’ flipped learning experience

Level of experience (in years) Frequency Percent Cumulative Percent
Years Less than 1
0-1
0
20
0
14.2
0
14.2
2-3 60 42.9 57.1
3-4
Above 4
25
35
17.9
25.0
75.0
100.0
Total 140 100.0

The data from the table above on respondents’ level of experience in flipped learning was plotted in a graph as shown below.

Level of respondents' flipped learning experience
Figure 5: Level of respondents’ flipped learning experience

Results and Findings

Several research questions formed the background of the analysis of the study’s phenomenon. As such, the search for information among the selected participants of the study focused on the identification of the challenges that the study participants experienced in their use of flipped learning in higher education chemistry; establish the advantages and disadvantages of flipped learning, as well as well as the weakness of this model of learning. This section provides the results of the survey that was carried out involving 100 students and 40 teachers.

The challenges and barriers of adopting and implementing flipped learning in chemistry at higher education

The study examined the opinions of the study participants on the challenges and the barriers that they might have experienced in the adoption and implementation flipped learning in chemistry at higher education level. This was exclusively meant for the teachers who taught chemistry, as well as the learners at the higher education level. As such, they were required to provide insights on whether or not they had faced any challenges when adopting or implementing flipped learning, as well as whether or not there were any potential challenges and barriers in the future. All the study participants admitted that the adoption and implementation of flipped learning for higher education chemistry is not an easy task and is associated with a number of challenges.

First, majority of the study participants (95%) pointed out the adoption of flipped learning in higher education chemistry was challenged by habitual resistance whereby most learners and educators are reluctant to adopt the new model due to the fact there they are used to the traditional classroom model. In addition, such resistance is also attributed to the notion among stakeholders in education that the flipped learning model is very complicated and would take much time before learners understand the involved concepts.

Secondly, lack of the necessary resources was cited by majority of the study participants as a challenge and barrier to the implementation of flipped learning at higher education level especially in chemistry classes. Majority of the students (57%) pointed out that they do not have the required electronic devices to access study materials posted for them. This was blamed on the fact that many students are actively trying to access study materials from the university IT room, implying that getting access to a free computer is by chance. For this reason, most learners end up failing to carry out online quizzes or even reading posted course materials before class time.

The design of the flipped classroom was also cited to have numerous challenges. For example, the classes that were used as for the flipped learning were the lecture halls. According to 86% of the study participants, the redesign of the classroom faced several challenges with some students reporting that there was a problem of hearing especially during presentations. A number of teachers (62.5%) attributed such hearing problem to background noise. In addition, the flipped learning involved learners in small discussion groups. However, half of the study participants felt that such an approach was not properly thought of as some of the study participants pointed out the discussions were affected by disruptions from other students as well as lack of focus that moved them out of the course of the discussion topic.

It was also evident that the lack of connection between in-class work, outside work and online work affected the adoption and implementation of the flipped learning model. While this problem was considered to be associated with the both the learners and the teachers, 86% of the study participants pointed that it was the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that there all in-class and out-of-class activities were interconnected.

Another challenge to the adoption and implementation of flipped learning was lack of support and time. Majority of the study participants (71.4%) pointed out that time was always a challenge, which was caused by the need to ensure consistency on online, class work and out-of-class activities. On the other hand, while time appeared to be a challenge, lack of support greatly affected the ease of adoption and implementation of flipped learning. According to majority of the learners, flipped learning being a new concept requires a lot of support from the teachers for the learners to be aware of what it entails so that they can be in a position to carry out online activities without challenges. A number of the teachers on the other hand, pointed out that they lacked the necessary support and motivation from the administration to adopt and implement flipped learning for chemistry lessons.

The advantages and disadvantages of adopting flipped learning approach in higher education

One of the objectives of carrying out this study was to find out the advantages and disadvantages of flipped learning in higher education chemistry. As such, the study sought the opinions of the study participants regarding this concept. The study a number of findings from the respondents as far as the advantages and disadvantages of flipped learning were concerned. Based on the respondents’ opinions, it could be inferred that flipped learning was very collaborative, interactive and comprised of activities that added fun to the learning experience. For example, 92.9% of the study participants found the flipped learning to be more efficient in comparison to the traditional learning approach. The participants pointed out that the engagement in discussions and peer learning was very efficient in boosting the performance of learners. All the study participants (100%) noted that the adoption of flipped learning was very effective in the maximization of class time. In addition, it was evident that most of the study participants felt that the flipped learning approach was very collaborative. On the other hand, 64.3% of the study participants noted that the use of combination of online, in-class, and out-of-class activities increased the participation of learners for a chance to boost their performance.

Nevertheless, there were a number of disadvantages of adopting flipped learning in higher education chemistry according to the responses. One of the disadvantages cited by the study participants was technical problems. Majority of the interviewed respondents (64.3%) pointed out that technical issues hindered them from accessing study materials posted online, which was attributed to lack of internet connection, necessary devices of even software. Secondly, some students pointed out that the learning materials provided did not have worked examples that would help them understand the concepts much better. Thirdly, a section of the students (50%) cited that the preferred a model that provided them with instant feedback for any quiz and assessment carried out. On the other hand, there was a section of the respondents who felt that flipped learning approach was highly involving as the learners had to participate in online, in-class and out-of-class activities.

The weaknesses and strengths of the flipped learning in MSc

The study sought the opinions of the study participants regarding the strengths and weaknesses of adopting flipped learning in masters’ level of study. According to the responses, it was evident that there were several factors that the learners and the teachers interviewed felt were strong points regarding the adoption of flipped learning at the MSc level. First, the respondents pointed out that its collaborative nature is very important at such a level of study as it allows the learners to understand the course concepts better in comparison to the traditional model. Secondly, 64.3% of the respondents felt that the model was suitable for the maximization of the use of class time. Thirdly, majority of the study participants pointed out that flipped learning motivated the students to learn. On the other hand, almost all respondents (97.1%) agreed that flipped learning provided learners with a lot of flexibility and freedom since they could watch the lecture videos at their own time, anywhere.

However, the study participants cited a number of weakness associated with the adoption of flipped learning in MSc level. First, it was evident that majority of the respondents cited time used in online, in-class and out-of-class activities as a weakness for flipped learning at MSc level. This was based on the reasoning that the MSc students are always committed elsewhere and would better prefer a model that does not require a lot of activities. Secondly, the model was faulted for lack of instant feedback, and challenging when it came to accessing course materials online.

Best practice of flipped learning

The study participants were asked to comment on the practice of flipped learning that the considered the best. According to the responses received, it was evident that the flipped learning approach had the ability to increase the learning outcomes of students, boost the passing rate, as well as encourage peer learning. For this reason, the participants had varying opinions on this concept. Nevertheless, 64.1% of them pointed out that the use of videos to learn was their best part of flipped learning. On the other hand, 35.9% considered the collaborative nature of the model to be the best practice. In general, the advocacy of the model to encourage peer learning was lauded by majority of the study participants for its ability to effectively maximizing class time use.

Chapter Summary

This chapter, data analysis and presentation, provided the collected data, its analysis as well as presentation in tables and graphs. In addition, the collected data was analyzed for a chance to provide better understanding of the flipped learning concept. The analysis revealed that flipped learning is more preferred than the traditional model of learning according to the responses provided. In addition, the chapter has analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of flipped learning in higher education and found out that one of the advantages of this model is the fact that it is highly collaborative ensuring that there is maximum use of class time. The analysis found out that lack of instant feedback and technical issues were some of the disadvantages of using flipped learning. On the other hand, it was evident that that habitual resistance, lack of support and the necessary resources hindered effective implementation of flipped learning in higher education institutions. These results and findings are further discussed in the next chapter where a comparison between the survey results and literature review findings is made.

Discusion, Conclusion and Recommedations

This study was based on the need to explore the adoption and implementation of flipped learning in higher education chemistry. The decision to carry out this study was instigated by the rising use of technology in the education sector as well as growing concerns over the increased use of flipped learning in higher education nowadays. As such, the study hoped to find out some of the limitations, advantages and disadvantages of adopting flipped learning in higher education chemistry. In addition, the study was motivated by the need to establish some of the strong points and weaknesses of implementing flipped learning at the MSc level of learning. This section of the dissertation provides a summary of the entire study, as well as a discussion of the findings from the review of literature and the survey conducted on flipped learning. In addition, the chapter offers a conclusion and recommendations based on the research findings.

Summary

The study combined qualitative and quantitative methods to collect the required data regarding flipped learning in higher education chemistry. With a number of research questions, the researcher was able to steer the study in the right direction by ensuring that all the necessary aspects of the study subject were effectively covered. The use of both qualitative and quantitative research strategies allowed the research to effective analyze the concept of flipped learning in higher education chemistry given that the qualitative research analyzes a study phenomenon deeply for an in-depth understanding of the subject under study by focusing on opinions and motivations. On the other hand, the quantitative strategy complemented the qualitative research approach such that by combining the two approaches, the research was in a position to understand the subject of flipped learning. Therefore, the mixed methods approach allowed variation in the process of collecting the required data. Additionally, this approach ensured that there was a suitable approach to provide the necessary answers for the research questions used in the study. Overly, the mixed methods research strategy ensured that the information and data had no ‘gaps’ and avoided the availability of preexisting assumptions by the researcher.

The introduction of flipped learning in the higher education is aimed at increasing the quality of education, boosting the academic performance of the students and making effective use of class time. In order to deeply analyze the concept of flipped learning, the explorative research design was adopted as such a design allowed the study to gain quality information about the subject being investigated. The explorative research design provided the platform to answer research questions on flipped learning through the use of a survey that targeted educators and learners who have experienced the traditional and flipped learning models.

The use of primary data in this study provided avenue for the researcher to use the purposive sampling technique to identify the various students and teachers from universities in the U.S to provide the necessary information as per the study’s objectives. As such, the purposive sampling was very instrumental in identifying the students and teachers to be interviewed. Questionnaires were used to collect the required data on from the target population. The advantages of using questionnaires were associated with the need to collect in-depth data on respondents’ opinions, perspectives, experiences and outcomes on flipped learning. A sample size of 150 study participants was proposed. However, only 140 of the targeted sample were used for the interview given that five of the distributed questionnaires were never returned, and the rest (5) were not fit for use in the analysis due to the fact that they contained missing data. The collected data from the survey was recorded in tabular form and plotted in graphs for better understanding.

Discussion of findings

The objectives of this study included the exploration of the concept of flipped learning adoption in higher education chemistry in an attempt to find out the challenges and barriers associated with flipped learning adoption in institutions of higher education; the advantages and disadvantages of such a model of learning especially for MSc chemistry. In addition, the study hoped to find out the strengths and weaknesses of adopting flipped learning. The results and findings from the survey and the review of literature are discussed below.

The challenges and barriers of flipped learning in chemistry at higher education

In an examination of the challenges and the barriers of the flipped learning, the study had a number of findings. For example, the analysis showed that 95% of the study participants noted that the adoption of flipped learning in higher education chemistry faced numerous challenges and barriers. One of the challenges was that there is high resistance among learners and teachers regarding the adoption of a new model of learning as they are used to the traditional model of learning. Such findings in a way correlate with the findings of the case study reviewed on the adoption of flipped learning in the Harvard Dental School. In this case study, Park and Howell (2014) pointed out the school administration and the learners were reluctant to adopt flipped learning as they preferred the old model which they were used to. However, Bergmann and Sams (2012) asserted that some of the challenges facing the adoption and implementation of flipped learning are based on the fear of the unknown. As evident in the case of flipped learning in Harvard Dental School, majority of the learner (85%) later came to acknowledge that this learning approach was more effective than the traditional one. For this reason, the adoption of this learning methodology requires the support of all the necessary stakeholders such as the teachers, learners and the administration.

Notably, the flipped learning adoption and implementation process cannot be successful unless both the teachers and the students have the necessary resources. Since most of the study materials are available online, any institution implementing flipped learning should have a website where the learners can access course materials, as well as provide the learners with the necessary devices such as computers to access such materials. As evident from the survey, 57% of the study participants indicated that they had challenges accessing course materials because they did not have electronic devices to login to the university website. Such findings were also evident in the case of flipped learning adoption in the Harvard dental school (Park & Howell 2014). According to Engin and Donanci (2016), the success of the adoption of flipped learning is directly proportional to the investment put of the entire process. This includes the availability of the necessary support services and resources. According to a study carried out by Bergmann and Sams (2012), showed that the adoption of flipped learning can only be effective if the necessary study aids are available. One of such resources is the availability of a well-designed flipped classroom. Numerous researchers and scholars have showed that most of the classes used for flipped learning do not fit the recommended design for flipped learning. As evident in the case of the survey, and the case study of Harvard dental school, the unavailability of the right class design hinders the efficiency of the flipped learning. For example, students in the Harvard Dental School complained that they were not hearing their peers well during presentations. According to Engin and Donanci (2016), improperly designed flipped classroom have the problem of background noise thereby, affecting efficiency of class presentations. Such cases were also evident in the survey carried out whereby 86% of the study participants felt that the redesign of the classrooms for flipped learning was not effective.

The survey results indicated that one of the in-class activities was group discussions aimed at enhancing peer learning. However, such discussions often diverted from the main course of the study. As such, the survey noted that the learning approach lacked suitable mechanisms to ensure that learners stayed focused during discussions and other online activities. According to Seery (2015), the success of flipped learning requires active participation of both the teachers and the students. As such, without having the necessary interest among the learners, it becomes hard to achieve their goals through flipped learning. For this reason, teachers are advised to ensure that the computers available for flipped learning cannot login to other sites especially social networking sites as a means to reduce diversion from the course materials (Bergmann & Sams 2012; Seery 2015). On the other hand, it is important for the teachers to keep the groups engaged avoid any disruptions from other students as well as lack of focus that would move them out of the course of the discussion topic.

The other challenge from the survey was the inefficiency of the teachers. According to the results of the survey, it was also evident that there was a lack of connection between in-class work, outside work and online work, which seemed to affect the efficiency of the flipped learning model. Nevertheless, such a challenge according to the teachers surveyed was attributed to the fact that flipped learning was a new approach that required all the teachers to be trained on all aspects of the model for effective adoption and implementation. Such results aligned with the assertion Bergmann and Sams (2012) that educators need to get trained before adopting flipped. Such training would ensure that the educators get to know the recommended length of videos, the design of the classroom, and resources required for the effective adoption of flipped learning. Training the teachers would ensure that there is interconnection between online, in-class and out-of-class activities.

The study noted that even though the flipped learning was lauded for its efficiency, its adoption and implementation was affected by lack of support and time constraint. For example, 71.4% of the study participants pointed out that they had a lot of problems ensuring consistency between online, class work and out-of-class activities. According to Seery (2015), it takes some time for the learners to develop interest in flipped learning as they are still stuck with their experience with the traditional model of learning. As such, the habitual resistance of the learners and the teachers affects their consistency as far as all the flipped learning activities are concerned (Fautch 2015). For this reason, there is a need for the teachers and students need to be motivated in order to develop the necessary motivations.

Advantages and disadvantages of adopting flipped learning approach in higher education

The study examined the advantages and disadvantages of flipped learning in higher education chemistry as this was one of the advantages of carrying out the study. The study participants were asked to provide their opinions regarding any advantages and disadvantages they might have experienced in the process of adopting and implementing flipped learning in higher education chemistry. According to the study findings, it was evident that that flipped learning was very collaborative, interactive and comprised of activities that added fun to the learning experience. Such findings were based on opinions of 92.9% of the study participants who pointed out that they found the flipped learning to be more efficient in comparison to the traditional learning approach. Such feelings were shared by 85% of students interviewed in Harvard dental school, who pointed out that flipped learning was more preferable than the traditional model due to its collaborative nature. Such findings aligned with some of the literature review findings. For example, the sole reason for Bergman and Sams (2012) proposition of adopting flipped learning was based on the fact that the flipped learning ensured that learners can access materials before and after class time. In addition, such a model of learning allows learners to hold discussions and engage in peer assessment which increases their level of participation in the learning process ( Fautch 2015). The engagement of the learners in various activities, such as online, in-class and out-of-class work keeps the learners focused on the course content, which is very important in their overall performance.

Secondly, the study found out that flipped learning model encouraged students to work hard. This was based on the fact that the model involves group discussions in class and outside, and peer learning for the purpose of boosting the performance of learners. Such an approach compels the learners to work hard such that they can effectively participate in discussions and any assessments.

As noted from the study, 100% of the surveyed study participants pointed out that the adoption of flipped learning was very effective in the maximization of class time. This aligns with the assertion of Seery (2015) that flipped learning engages learners in numerous activities within the available time, and spares time by ensuring that course materials are available for students’ access out of class. Bergmann and Sams (2012) availed study materials online so that learners who missed classes can access them at their free time. Such a mode of teaching ensures that the course content is covered extensively within the shortest time possible. Such findings correlated with the survey results whereby 64.3% of the study participants noted that the use of combination of online, in-class, and out-of-class activities increased the participation of learners and led to a high passing rate in assessments and exams.

According to Fautch (2015), learners in flipped learning model are required to have access to course material before class time, and thus it becomes important to incentivize pre-lecture work. Such objective can be achieved through assessing the learners after they go through video presentation of class content. The assessment can be in the form of a quiz taken before class of during class time, as this would encourage the students to be attentive to the lecture presentation and any other materials that they gain access to before class time. In addition, the assessment of the students whether in class of before attending the class is considered a suitable way to ensure that there learners remain at all the time prepared for class.

In spite of the above advantages, the study found out that there are shortcomings of adopting flipped learning in higher education chemistry. The survey carried out indicated that technical problems as far as access to online content are a major problem that affects effective implementation of flipped learning. In addition, the students at the Harvard dental school pointed out that there were times when they could not access course materials due to technical problems. Bergmann and Sams (2012) asserted that flipped learning can be effective only if materials provided to the learners help them. Technical problems hinder learners from accessing such materials thereby as evident in the case of 64.3% of the study participants interviewed who pointed out that technical issues hindered them from accessing study materials posted online, which was attributed to lack of internet connection, necessary devices of even software.

Lack of comprehensive course materials was another disadvantage cited by the study participants. According to a section of the interviewed students, the learning materials provided did not have worked examples that would help them understand the concepts much better. Thirdly, a section of the students (50%) cited that the preferred a model that provided them with instant feedback for any quiz and assessment carried out. On the other hand, there was a section of the respondents who felt that flipped learning approach was highly involving as the learners had to participate in online, in-class and out-of-class activities. Foldnes (2016) noted that the background of the flipped learning method is instructional lectures and constructivist ideology that are based on direct instruction methods that use various behaviorist principles. For this reason, the learning materials provided depend on the discretion of the teacher. However, the teachers are required to ensure that the materials they avail to the learners contain all the necessary concepts that the learners need for their study.

Weaknesses and strengths of the flipped learning in MSc

The concept of flipped learning is new and thus requires careful evaluation before adoption. The study sought the opinions of the study participants regarding the strengths and weaknesses of adopting flipped learning in masters’ level of study. There was a feeling among the study participants that flipped learning was suitable for the MSc level. For example, it was noted that the study participants were thrilled collaborative aspect of flipped learning and noted that it was very instrumental in ensuring that learners understand course content easily unlike in the case of the traditional approach. Seery (2015) noted that the adoption of flipped learning was very effective in achieving learners’ expectations due to the fact that it connects online work, in-class and out-of-class activities. Secondly, it was evident that flipped learning allowed learners to maximize the use of class time. In traditional learning, the time allocated for a single lecture especially for chemistry is not enough since the subject is very involving and requires effective engagement of the students in asking and answering questions (Foldness 2016; Seery 2015).

However, Bergmann and Sams (2012) pointed out that flipped learning maximizes class time by dividing course content to be carried out online, in-class and out of the class making it easy to cover the course content over a short time. Christiansen (2014) discovered that flipped learning encourages learners to work hard, as evident in the study results whereby 97.1% of the respondents pointed out that flipped learning is flexible as they can watch the lecture videos at their own time whenever they needed. Such flexibility and freedom gives the learners opportunity to adequately prepare for class, assessments and exams.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Evidently from the study results, flipped learning is a very suitable approach of learning that is highly collaborative. By adopting flipped learning in higher education chemistry, learners will be in a position to maximize their use of class time and engage in meaningful discussions. In addition, the learners will be in a position to access course content at any time they wish, which ensures that they prepare adequately for class, assignments and discussions. Generally, flipped learning is very effective in boosting the performance of learners. However, teachers should ensure high-quality lecture materials, well-designed classroom and effective assessments to keep the learners engaged all the time.

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