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Mini Project - Flipped Classroom

The aim of this mini project is to critically review the work of J.F. Strayer (2012) ‘How learning in an inverted classroom influences co-operation, innovation and task orientation’,  This review will focus on how the flipped classroom model works, the research setting, research methods and Strayer’s findings.  Finally, this project will summarise the potential for the flipped, or inverted, classroom in a setting of continuing professional development for lawyers.

The flipped classroom  has existed  in various forms for  a number of years but has been succinctly described as a type of ‘blended learning design which uses technology to flip the activities that traditionally take place in the classroom to outside the classroom and uses learning activities in the classroom’ (Strayer, 2012).  This model allows for the delivery of learning materials online, eg. lectures, to be engaged with by the students before the class; allowing higher order skills, such as evaluation and analysis (Bloom, 1956) to take place during class time.

Strayer’s (2012) research was based on  two of his own classes delivering Introductory Statistics in a Computer Studies setting.  He found that students’ expectations of the classroom situation were not met and the students were unsettled by the flipped approach.  Students focussed on the negative aspects of the model, however, the students appeared to learn more, participated more in class and had a deeper understanding of their own learning process.

Strayer followed the recommendations for research settings of Bluic, Goodyear and Ellis (2007) and used mixed methods research to collect data on the students’ perceptions of the learning environment.  Quantitative data was collected using a standardised instrument, the College and University Classroom Environment Inventory.    The mixed methods,qualitative, data from focus group interviews, field notes, reflective diaries, etc, are by their nature subjective,  however, this data can have value in explanatory terms (Onwuegbuzie and Leech, 2005 pp382).  Although Strayer’s work is interesting as there has been little empirical research done, it would be desirable to see the results of a similar study for a variety of settings, eg. school children, post-graduate students.

In the setting of continuing professional development for lawyers, web based technology is already widely used in the delivery of discrete, stand alone, units of material largely in the form of podcasts of talks, or online journal articles in pdf or word format with assessment being in the form of a related online multiple choice question paper.  However, there is debate in the legal profession with respect to a competency framework (Baski, 2013) and clarity on standards (Savage, 2013) as not only do lawyers need to have delivery of knowledge, they need to develop a range of ‘soft’  professional skills.  A flipped classroom model would appear to offer a good deal of potential in this setting by allocating the lower order skills to private study time via online teacher exposition (Bloom, 1956) whilst  allowing development of higher order skills based activities, such as mock client interviews, mock trials, negotiation role play, discussion of money laundering situations.

References

Baski, C. (Oct 2013) The Law Society Gazette

Bloom, B. (1956) Taxonomy of Learning Domains

Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2011)  Research Methods in Education, 7th Ed.

Savage, N (Oct 2013) The Law Society Gazette

Strayer, J.F. (2012)  How Learning in an Inverted Classroom Influences Co-operation, Innovation and Task Orientation