The ‘flipped’ classroom: Education students’ perceptions of an innovative approach to learning in a research methods module

The teaching of research methods can be described as ‘dry’ and a flipped approach was adopted as a more innovative and engaging pedagogy with three different Education undergraduate programmes. The premise of the flipped classroom being students prepare for the session with video lectures and reading prior to the taught session. The traditional lecture is then replaced with a range of scaffolded activities intended to develop and enhance learning further. The research literature on the flipped classroom is generally positive arguing that it is an approach which encourages active learning prior to and during a session. A phenomenological methodology was used to explore the various ways in which students see and experience the flipped classroom. An online questionnaire asking students to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach was administered. Variations in relation to how students appeared to understand the flipped classroom were identified. These ‘categories of description’ included: tensions between the role of lecturers as ‘experts’ and ‘facilitators’, perceived limitations of students adding to the knowledge of other students and the extent of ‘value-added’ learning in the timetabled session activities. A series of recommendations are based upon these findings to ensure that students develop effectively within sessions having completed the preparatory tasks.