Challenges in Implementing the Flipped Classroom Model in Higher Education

Challenges in Implementing the Flipped Classroom Model in Higher Education

Lakshmi Chellapan (University of Otago, New Zealand) and Jacques van der Meer (University of Otago, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9680-8.ch018
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The flipped classroom as typically applied in higher education, consists of delivering lecture material outside of classroom contact, leaving face-to-face class time for more interactive learning, discussion, integration, and application of content (Grant, 2013). Increasing numbers of teachers in higher education are considering implementing this model in light of the perceived benefits of a more active engagement of students in their learning, be it in education, interior designing, medical, sciences, social science, business and management programs (Fulton, 2012; Grant,2013; Roehl, et al. 2013). However, there are challenges in implementing this model. This chapter aims to identify some of the more common challenges. Finally, an example of ‘work in progress' of addressing of these challenges in ‘flipping' the classroom in a first-year university course.
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The flipped classroom model has increased in popularity over the last decade (Bergmann & Sams, 2012, Davis, Dean, & Ball, 2013; Enfield, 2013). This model differs from a traditional classroom in that course content is introduced to students not through lectures but through other ways outside of the classroom. As a consequence of the technological affordances in recent years, in many flipped classroom models this is typically done through recorded lectures or shorter video-clips which the students are required to watch in their own time. Subsequently, in the classroom, the students engage with the lecture content through more active approaches. By ‘active’ is meant that students do not just ‘consume’ what is delivered from the front of the class in a didactic way, but that they are actively engaged in making sense of the material. For example, through problem-based activities, brainstorming, group/pair work. There is much diversity and many emerging understandings of what the model entails, and it is likely that this is to continue for some time to come.

It is important to emphasise that although in many flipped classroom models, recorded video lectures, or short video clips are used, the defining characteristic of the flipped model is not the use of video, but moving the typically transmission-mode or didactic delivery of course content out of the classroom and to the students’ out-of-class study time. The “Flip Classroom Network” provides the following definition that captures this defining characteristic:

Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. (FLN, 2014, p.1)

Abeysekera and Dawson (2015, p.1) provide a more succinct definition, also foregrounding the active nature of what happens in class instead of merely focusing on the use of videos: “Flipped classroom approaches remove the traditional transmissive lecture and replace it with active in-class tasks and pre/post-class work”

One criticism that could be aimed at the current popularity of this model is that this approach is not new at all and that many teachers have been actively engaging their students for quite some time, whether in lecture settings or other delivery models, such as seminars, or workshops. Furthermore, there is an increasing interest in making lectures more interactive. For teachers who would typically engage their students already through active learning approaches in lecture based sessions, this model nonetheless could enhance what they are doing by freeing up more time, and adding technologies that may appeal to the current generation of learners. Time could be freed up by, for example, reducing the number or length of lectures. This switch would allow them to spend even more time discussing and solving problems (Becker, 2013). Although the literature suggest that the Flipped Classroom Model has been a particular issue of interest in United States education for some years now, but it has also started to attract attention elsewhere in the world (see for example Abeysekera & Dawson, 2015; van der Meer et al, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Video Clips: This refers to short episodes of recorded video material. This term has become more widespread because of the use of video clip online.

Flipped Classroom Model: A course organization approach whereby lecture material is studied/processed by student out of the classroom, and the freed-up time is used to actively engage students in making sense of course material.

Active Learning: This concept relates to students’ processing of course material. By ‘active’ is meant that students do not just ‘consume’ what is delivered from the front of the class in a didactic way, but that they are actively engaged in making sense of the course material.

ICT: Information and Communication Technology. This is typically used as an umbrella term that covers the range and diversity of digital communication or information processing devices, (including computers and hand-held devices such as tablets and smart phones), as well as software that is used on those devices.

Screencast: A digital video recording of whatever is displayed on a computer screen. This is also known as video screen capture. Screencast software is both available as commercial licensed software that can be downloaded as well as free software that can be used online.

Traditional Lecture: A lecture aimed at transmission of course content whereby the focus is on the delivery of the material by the lecturer.

Student-Centred Instruction: A focus on what the student does, and what promotes student learning, rather than a focus on what the teacher does.

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