Thursday, 28 May 2015


The student responses have increased my determination to implement the flipped model and to present the research as part of my professional development this year.  There is a clear need to ensure that students take ownership of their learning through the use of active rather than passive activities in class.  One of the issues with this is the time available to teach content and then to allow students to explore the content further and to have more control over how and when they learn.

The flipped model would allow content (teacher talk and note-taking) to occur in the student's own time and consequently provide  more opportunity in class for student directed activities and collaboration.  Also the students would have access to the  material whenever they needed it and could refer back to presentations at will.

Although there will always be students who choose not to engage in their learning the flipped model will ensure that everyone has the same opportunities to learn.  The illustration below  details the levels of engagement of students in class and how much attention is given during teacher talking. Many students miss essential learning in class because of noise, pace of the lesson and inattention.  It is much more realistic to expect students to access content in their own time and to 'play' with that content in class time in collaboration with others.  That is when real learning begins to happen.

Student Engagement Technology On student engagement

Retrieved from:

Potential Impact of student responses.

  One of my research questions links to the student's perception of flipped learning.    Only one student in the informal survey considered pre-learning to be helpful - this may be because the students have never been exposed to it or they don't understand the concept.  I used 'pre-learning' instead of 'flipped classroom' because I felt the meaning was more obvious to students.  This research question will be asked after the implementation of the  flipped unit.  Students will be able to measure the extent and quality of their learning more effectively after they have experienced the model.

I was concerned at how the students saw their role in their learning.  For the most part they considered their role as passive - to be 'fed' the content and record it rather than active seeking and re-imaging of knowledge.   I could have included a homework option in the survey to allow students to comment on that aspect of their learning so I could judge the level of participation with learning  in their own time.

Community Scoping - Reflection on survey

Deciding on how to phrase the questions for the survey information I wanted from the students was problematic.  I wanted to know what they thought about learning but it needed to be presented so they could understand the questions being asked.  I spent some time with different iterations of the questions and their potential responses.  I have found in previous surveys that interpretation of a question is always individual and you need to carefully construct a survey in order to focus on the information you want.

 I considered whether to rework the actual research questions to ensure the students understood what the questions were asking before they commented on them.  In the end I decided to trust that they could comment effectively and that they would think carefully about their responses.

Students like to be asked to contribute to research or to assignments. They are interested in the idea that teachers want to know how students like to learn but, more importantly I think, it is a form of modelling to young people of the meaning of 'life-long learning'.

In hindsight I needed to consider the questions and potential responses more critically.  This is an important lesson to learn.  The composition of research questions is a skill that must be developed.  In a survey it is very easy to have questions and choices that limit responses or that do not collect accurate information and therefore do not reflect the reality.

Student responses to research questions

The student responses were disconcerting.  The majority of students felt the most effective way to learn was through the teacher talking and the students taking notes.  A smaller number of students considered working in groups or collaboratively as a good learning experience.  Only one student considered pre-learning as a positive way to support their learning.

The students, for the most part, saw their role in learning as listening and taking notes and answering questions and complete tasks.  A small number of students considered group or collaborative  work effective.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Survey questions

I wanted to ascertain how engaged my year nine class were with their present learning.  I was also interested in their perception of flipped learning and how they thought they might respond to it.

The questions I decided to ask on a Google Form were:

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Research and the Maori Community.

A recent Ingenio article by Judy Wilford (2015) discusses the impact of research that encompasses the needs of Maori.  The research process, implemented by neurobiologist  Dr Melanie Cheung and focussed on  brain function in relation to Huntingdon's disease,  is almost entirely conducted by Maori researchers on  Maori subjects. In order to work out the way in which to proceed with the research they consulted widely with Iwi to ensure the proper  protocols were followed and the researchers ensured Tikanga Maori was an integral part  in the way the research was implemented. The final comment in the article "We're discovering that what is good for Maori is likely to be good for others as well."  suggests that these researchers have found a way to ensure that their process can benefit everyone.

This article interested me because it modelled a research process that allowed the participants to receive a treatment that was appropriate to their culture and that nurtured this aspect. Actions such as  greeting the participants with Karakia, eating with them and showing them the space in which they will work together all serve to make them feel valued and safe in an otherwise hostile hospital environment.

Quite a lot!  How often as teachers or researchers do we take into account the cultural background and level of comfort our students experience in school?  How often are they consulted about how their assessment data is used and the way it is shared with others?  School is a contrived environment that reflects a eurocentric model of education.  The majority imposes its understandings of what is important on students and their whanau.  This may be considered a necessary evil - that we have a certain amount of content that must be covered and this is how we will cover it.   But do we need to question the validity of that content and those assessments for students whose cultural experiences are vastly different from our own?  When conducting research or being involved in a research initiative do we need to consult with participants to ensure their cultural needs are taken into account and acknowledged by the researchers and the method of research?

The flipped classroom model could prove to be one way in which Maori and Pasifika students can begin to control the content of their learning and the focus of assessments.  The research process into the impact of the flipped classroom on reluctant learners could model for them a new way of interacting with others and a different way of talking about learning.

Wilford, J. (2015 Autumn).  Powering the Brain. Ingenio, pp28-29

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

What does my community look like?

The focus community for the engagement plan is my year nine class.  The class has a range of cultures including , Maori, NZ European,  Pasifika, African, Fijian Indian, and Indonesian. Almost a third of the students are Maori.  

As well as a range of cultures there is also a range of abilities.  Some of the students received level  three (basic) in their reading test at the beginning of the year while others are operating at  level five (advanced) on the curriculum.  Although the reading asttle is only one test it does give an indication of  student's ability to comprehend complex text.  The variation in scores means the learning has to be differentiated across a wide range of student levels.

Motivation is also an important factor in this community.  Many of these students are disengaged with  learning.  They struggle to see the purpose of many of the topics covered in class and do not have sufficient independent learning skills to be able to self-direct.  

Saturday, 9 May 2015

My research proposal and justification.

My research will focus on the questions about flipped learning that my literature review did not answer. Those questions will include:

  • What is the level of ownership students have over their learning at the present time.
  • The  flipped model from a student perspective. What is the student response to the idea of flipped learning?
  • What is the impact of  a flipped unit of work on their learning?
  • Are reluctant learners  engaged by the flipped learning model?

My Community Engagement Plan:

  1. The community will be surveyed to ascertain their initial response to the flipped classroom.  
  2. The flipped unit will be implemented.  It will be based on a written text study and incorporate active, collaborative tasks and tricky questions.
  3. Quantitative data will be collected about how many students accessed the out of class resources and how often.
  4. Quantitative data on will also be collected on the final essay assessment.
  5. Qualitative data through student interviews will be collected to ascertain how useful the students found the flipped unit and how engaged they were in their learning.
  6. Observation will be made by an external auditor (another teacher) to ascertain how engaged the students were in class.  This audit may focus on a specific group of students.

Friday, 8 May 2015

The Literature Review.

The purpose of my literature review of flipped classroom learning was to discover how reluctant learners  were engaged by the flipped classroom model.

My Literature Review focussed on the following questions:
  •      What forms of classroom activities promote engagement?
  • What preparation do students need in order to have a positive learning experience?
  • What are student attitudes toward the flipped classroom?
  •     What is the potential for student learning in a flipped classroom?   
       My conclusions were that most of the research around the flipped model was based on tertiary experiences.  The students were engaged and found the learning model useful but for the most part they seemed to be already motivated to learn.  The review of literature also suggested that one of the motivating elements for students was the implementation of active and collaborative learning activities in the classroom.  

       The review did not help me to understand further how reluctant learners could be engaged by the flipped classroom.  What I did discover, however, was that the flipped classroom model could be used as a stepping stone to self-directed learning by students.  Imagine, then, a class where all the information and knowledge required for effective learning is available on the class website.  The videos and presentations are created at first by the teacher then, as time goes on, by students.  The students control the learning.  They decide what they want to learn and how they want to learn it and who with.  They access the information when they need it.  Some of them might create their own versions of the information.  In class the students are engaged in collaborative learning tasks that require higher order thinking skills and self-monitoring.  Eventually you won't need to flip the classroom  -  this is the experience of Shelley Wright.  

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Community Engagement Plan: statement of research interest.

The flipped classroom model is gaining ground in secondary and tertiary institutions in the United States and other countries.  The  Literature Review I completed for the last assignment identified that it is mostly successful at tertiary and/or post graduate level.  Students seem to be motivated to learn and willing to try new ways of achieving.  There is very little literature on the flipped classroom in secondary schools and virtually nothing that references New Zealand experiences.

The flipped model makes a lot of sense to me.  It allows students to access the learning they need when they need it - just in time learning.  I see it as a way to avoid the lecture style presentation which, although I enjoy, I believe marginalises many students. Lecturing is an ineffective way of disseminating information or knowledge because it targets all students with one topic (Just in case learning) rather than giving them access to the knowledge they need at the time.   For example a student might need  specific teaching on punctuating sentences but the teacher chooses to focus on developing ideas in creative writing because that seems to be the area of greatest need.

Steve Wheeler
University of Plymouth, United Kingdom
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: International Licence.