Flipped Classroom and Pedagogical Theory
In the article, “Shifting the Instructional Paradigm,” Allen looks at various pedagogical theories, and examines their applications to the Flipped Classroom.
He writes that there are cases where flipped instruction has improved every significant learning indicator, including student learning, attendance, compliance, as well as the educator’s satisfaction with job. Additionally, he refers to numerous educational theorists and uses their frameworks to reference Flipped Classrooms. These theorists include Vygotsky, Bloom, Keller, and Skinner. He gives a succinct introduction to each theorist’s fundamentals, and applies it to the flipped classroom:
a. Lev Vygotsky was a Russian developmental psychologist who proposed a theory of the development of higher cognitive functions in children that saw reasoning as emerging through practical activity in a social environment. His theories emphasized that children can reach a higher level of understanding through group work, which is a key component of Flipped Classrooms. Whereas lectures emphasize conformity and memorization, group work emphasizes problem solving and knowledge application.
b. Benjamin Bloom was an American educational psychologist who contributed to the theory of the mastery learning model. This theory stated that students must master prerequisite materials before moving on to learn subsequent information. The focus of instruction should be on the time required for individual students to master any given information. As such, students should receive individual instructions, work at own pace, and receive regular formative assessments from their instructors. These are all characteristics of the flipped classroom.
c. Fred Keller was an American experimental psychologist. He developed the Personal System of Instruction, which laid the basis for mastery learning. He also developed the Keller Plan, one component of which consisted of unit mastery, essentially chunking long lectures or content into discrete units, which is what flipped learning tends to do. The students must demonstrate mastery of the content before moving on to the next unit or chunk. These are key components of flipped classrooms.
d. B.F. Skinner, an American Psychologist and Behaviourist who developed theories of reinforcement and radical behaviourism. In terms of educational theory, reinforcement was applied to sequential learning, as students had to master a concept before advancing to the next one, with prompt feedback, rather than typically delayed feedback. Again, this is applicable to Flipped Classrooms, as in class activities allow for a chance at immediate assessment of applied knowledge.
Allen notes that many of the above theories tended to be adopted by alternative schools, and that for the majority of institutions, the lecture format has persisted.
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