Why flip your classroom?

Active learning improves students' understanding and retention of information and can be very effective in developing higher order cognitive skills such as problem solving and critical thinking. (Merlot Pedagogy)

Active learning is central to the flipped classroom and is supported by research that indicates students can experience significant learnig gains when compared to the passive lecture format (Freeman et al, 2014; Butchart et al, 2009; Drinkwater et al, 201; Deslauriers et al., 2011)

The lecture still plays a critical role, however the emphasis is on providing opportunites for students to explore content that challenges their higher order thinking. Davis (2009) suggestes a variety of cooperative and collaborative activities can:

  • Promote ‘‘deep’’ as opposed to ‘‘surface’’ learning
  • Promote ‘‘active’’ as opposed to ‘‘passive’’ learning
  • Promote experiential learning and collaborative and cooperative learning
  • Promote the construction of knowledge and enhancement of problem-based learning among students
  • provide an authentic form of assessment in terms of developing students’ graduate capabilities for later professional settings.

Anecdotally, the UQ Case Studies highlight stories across the disciplines of the classroom being a much more interesting and vibrant place for both students and educators, and with students producing higher quality work.

See the Active learning section for a variety of strategies that can be introduced into your teaching.


Butchart, S., Handfield, T., & Restall, G. (2009). Using Peer Instruction to Teach Philosophy, Logic, and Critical Thinking. Teaching Philosophy, 32(1), 1-40.

Davies, W. M. (2009). Groupwork as a form of assessment: common problems and recommended solutions. Higher Education, 58(4), 563-584.

DesLauriers L, Schelew E, and Wieman C (2011). Improved learning in a large-enrollment physics class. Science 332: 862-864.

Drinkwater, M. J., Gannaway, D., Sheppard, K., Davis, M. J., Wegener, M. J., Bowen, W. P., & Corney, J. F.. (2014). Managing Active Learning Processes in Large First Year Physics Classes: The Advantages of an Integrated Approach. Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 2(2), 75–90. http://doi.org/10.2979/teachlearninqu.2.2.75

Freeman, S., Eddy, S.L., McDonough, M., Smith, M.K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M.P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8410-8415.


Flipped Classroom: Making the decision to flip a class

This video can also be viewed here.

Berrett, D (2012) How 'Flipping' the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture, The Education Digest, 78 (1) 36-41 

Abstract: The supply of such offerings, at low or no cost, is increasing, as demonstrated by recent news of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's founding of MITx and a Stanford University professor's start-up of Udacity. Flipping allows colleges to make the traditional lecture model more productive, says Harrison Keller, vice provost for higher-education policy at the University of Texas at Austin.

Butchart, S., Handfield, T., & Restall, G. (2009). Using Peer Instruction to Teach Philosophy, Logic, and Critical Thinking. Teaching Philosophy, 32(1), 1-40.

Abstract: Peer Instruction is a simple and effective technique you can use to make lectures more interactive, more engaging, and more effective learning experiences. Although well known in science and mathematics, the technique appears to be little known in the humanities. In this paper, we explain how Peer Instruction can be applied in philosophy lectures. We report the results from our own experience of using Peer Instruction in undergraduate courses in philosophy, formal logic, and critical thinking. We have consistently found it to be a highly effective method of improving the lecture experience for both students and the lecturer.

Bishop, JL & Verleger, DMA The Flipped Classroom: A Survey of the Research. Paper presented at the 120th American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Research Review retrieved from http://www.asee.org/public/conferences/20/registration/sessions

Abstract: Recent advances in technology and in ideology have unlocked entirely new directions for educa- tion research. Mounting pressure from increasing tuition costs and free, online course offerings is opening discussion and catalyzing change in the physical classroom. The flipped classroom is at the center of this discussion. The flipped classroom is a new pedagogical method, which em- ploys asynchronous video lectures and practice problems as homework, and active, group-based problem solving activities in the classroom. It represents a unique combination of learning theo- ries once thought to be incompatible—active, problem-based learning activities founded upon a constructivist ideology and instructional lectures derived from direct instruction methods founded upon behaviorist principles.

This paper provides a comprehensive survey of prior and ongoing research of the flipped class- room. Studies are characterized on several dimensions. Among others, these include the type of in-class and out-of-class activities, the measures used to evaluate the study, and methodological characteristics for each study. Results of this survey show that most studies conducted to date explore student perceptions and use single-group study designs. Reports of student perceptions of the flipped classroom are somewhat mixed, but are generally positive overall. Students tend to prefer in-person lectures to video lectures, but prefer interactive classroom activities over lec- tures. Anecdotal evidence suggests that student learning is improved for the flipped compared to traditional classroom. However, there is very little work investigating student learning out- comes objectively. We recommend for future work studies investigating of objective learning outcomes using controlled experimental or quasi-experimental designs. We also recommend that researchers carefully consider the theoretical framework used to guide the design of in-class ac- tivities.

Bonwell, CC, & Eison, JA (1991). Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom ASHEERIC Higher Education Report (Vol. 1). Washington, DC: George Washington University.

Abstract: Research consistently has shown that traditional lecture methods, in which professors talk and students listen, dominate college and university classrooms. It is therefore important to know the nature of active learning, the empirical research on its use, the common obstacles and barriers that give rise to faculty members' resistance to interactive instructional techniques, and how faculty, faculty developers, administrators, and educational researchers can make real the promise of active learning.

Crouch, C., & Mazur, E. (2001). Peer Instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics, 69(9), 970-977.

Abstract: We report data from ten years of teaching with Peer Instruction PI in the calculus- and algebra-based introductory physics courses for nonmajors; our results indicate increased student mastery of both conceptual reasoning and quantitative problem solving upon implementing PI. We also discuss ways we have improved our implementation of PI since introducing it in 1991. Most notably, we have replaced in-class reading quizzes with pre-class written responses to the reading, introduced a research-based mechanics textbook for portions of the course, and incorporated cooperative learning into the discussion sections as well as the lectures. These improvements are intended to help students learn more from pre-class reading and to increase student engagement in the discussion sections, and are accompanied by further increases in student understanding.

DesLauriers L, Schelew E, and Wieman C (2011). Improved learning in a large-enrollment physics class. Science 332: 862-864.


We compared the amounts of learning achieved using two different instructional approaches under controlled conditions. We measured the learning of a specific set of topics and objectives when taught by 3 hours of traditional lecture given by an experienced highly rated instructor and 3 hours of instruction given by a trained but inexperienced instructor using instruction based on research in cognitive psychology and physics education. The comparison was made between two large sections (N = 267 and N = 271) of an introductory undergraduate physics course. We found increased student attendance, higher engagement, and more than twice the learning in the section taught using research-based instruction.

Kuh, G D (2008) High Impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter: Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)

Abstract: This report on “high-impact educational practices” speaks directly to what is arguably our most important national challenge in higher education: helping America’s extraordinarily diverse students reap the full benefits—economic, civic, and personal—of their studies in college. AAC&U is pleased to publish this report, which builds upon and more deeply probes themes we first explored in our major initiative, Greater Expectations (2000-06), and that we are advancing today through our ten-year successor initiative, Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP).

Kuh, D, Kinzie, J, Schuh, JH and Whitt, EJ (2010) Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter: Jossey-Bass.

Abstract: Student Success in College describes policies, programs, and practices that a diverse set of institutions have used to enhance student achievement. This book clearly shows the benefits of student learning and educational effectiveness that can be realized when these conditions are present. Based on the Documenting Effective Educational Practice (DEEP) project from the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University, this book provides concrete examples from twenty institutions that other colleges and universities can learn from and adapt to help create a success-oriented campus culture and learning environment.

Prince, M. (2004). Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223 -231.

Abstract: This study examines the evidence for the effectiveness of active learning. It defines the common forms of active learning most relevant for engineering faculty and critically examines the core element of each method. It is found that there is broad but uneven support for the core elements of active, collaborative, cooperative and problem-based learning.

Stannard, R. (2012). The flipped classroom or the connected classroom? Modern English Teacher, 21(1), 35-37.

Abstract: [...]while high-school students still occasionally lapse on homework assignments, Bergmann credits the new arrangement with fostering better relationships, greater student engagement, and higher levels of motivation. Smith, who has taught for more than a decade in both D.C.'s public charter and traditional district schools, immediately saw the benefit for students, but says she was most captivated by the opportunity to elevate teaching practice and the profession as a whole. [...]while Khan Academy's prominence engenders fear of standardization and deprofessionalization among some critics, Bergmann, Sams, and Smith see instructional videos as powerful tools for teachers to create content, share resources, and improve practice.

Strayer, J ( 2012) How learning in an inverted classroom influences cooperation, innovation and task orientation, Learning Environments Research, 15 (2) 171-193

Abstract: Recent technological developments have given rise to blended learning classrooms. An inverted (or flipped) classroom is a specific type of blended learning design that uses technology to move lectures outside the classroom and uses learning activities to move practice with concepts inside the classroom. This article compares the learning environments of an inverted introductory statistics class with a traditional introductory statistics class at the same university. This mixed-methods research study used the College and University Classroom Environment Inventory (CUCEI), field notes, interviews and focus groups to investigate the learning environments of these two classrooms. Students in the inverted classroom were less satisfied with how the classroom structure oriented them to the learning tasks in the course, but they became more open to cooperative learning and innovative teaching methods. These findings are discussed in terms of how they contribute to the stability and connectedness of classroom learning communities.