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Flipped Learning: 10 Years in the Making

It's been a long and amazing evolution so far

by Emily Weston

By now, most of us in the education world have heard of flipped learning or using a “flipped classroom.” At the most basic level, flipped learning involves having students watch their classroom lecture at home and use class time for active learning and homework with their teacher (and fellow classmates).

The concept of flipped learning was developed by teachers and innovators Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams 10 years ago. The movement started out with Bergman and Sams exploring a concept to help students at the rural school where they taught to stay up to speed on their school work. They found kids were often missing class time – due to a long commute home, sports and other factors like being sick. The flipped learning model allowed them to get the lessons to their students no matter where they were.

Fast forward to today, flipped learning has become common practice, with nearly 80 percent of teachers having flipped at least one class. And while research is still being gathered, we continue to find new evidence – quantitative and qualitative – that demonstrates how the flipped learning model can benefit our students and prepare them for the future. There are a few consistent areas where educators are continually seeing positive results from the flipped learning approach.  

1.) Increased competence in core subjects: Flipped learning has proven to help students – especially those who struggle in a subject – grow stronger in their studies. Byron High School in Rochester, Minnesota evaluated the impact of flipped learning in its math classes between 2010 and 2011. The teachers found a 9.8 percent increase in calculus proficiencies and a 5.1 percent increase in Algebra II. Increased proficiencies translated to improved standardized exams. The math mastery level for students went from approximately 65 percent in 2010 to nearly 74 percent by 2011 once flipped learning was implemented.

2.) Improved grades and test scores: Increased competence and proficiency naturally translates to better grades. In a 2011 published report, students from the University of British Columbia taking a physics course were split into two groups in which one was given a flipped classroom curriculum. When tested, students in the flipped classroom scored an average of 74 percent. Compared to the traditional group who scored an average of 41 percent. Another study conducted by TeacherVision explored teacher experiences with the flipped learning model. In a survey of 453 teachers who flipped their classrooms, 67 percent reported increased test scores for all students. While the teachers surveyed felt all students benefited from flipped learning, they noted special benefits among students in advanced placement classes and students with special needs.

3.) Decreased stress and improved classroom satisfaction: We all talk about the importance of creating a “student-centered classroom.” The ability to have a more tailored, individualized approach has led to improved satisfaction for students in a flipped classroom model. A study conducted at a private high-school in Dubai with a diverse international student population evaluated the flipped classroom for its effect on student’s stress and academic success. At the end of the semester, students reported lower stress levels and an overall positive feeling about the flipped classroom style. The study also found overall semester grades were improved.  

4.) Enhanced student engagement: Counter to what you might expect, students have been especially open to the flipped classroom model, and many seem to enjoy it even more than traditional methods. 75 percent of students studied at Stockholm University in Sweden reported a positive view of the flipped classroom. The students also noted that it is “easier and more effective to learn” with the flipped classroom approach and they felt “more motivated as a learner.” Another study conducted among college students at Facultad Regional San Nicolás in Argentina demonstrated student acceptance and enthusiasm for the flipped classroom model. The study confirmed that they preferred to work on their own with guidance which aligned well with the new flipped learning model. Finally, at Ashland Middle School in Massachusetts, two French classes were compared – one with a traditional teaching model and the other with flipped learning. The flipped classroom saw completed homework increase to 98.7 percent (up from 79.8 percent).

5.) Ability to pace and meet students where they are: It is a constant struggle to balance the pace of your lecture or class lesson to meet the needs of every student. A flipped learning curriculum allows students to go at their own pace, which can be especially helpful to those who are either higher or lower performers. At Annie Wright Schools, I started using flipped learning with my math students about six years ago. I didn’t see the positive results right away, but by year two and three, I realized how much more I was able to connect with my students on a personal level and could gain a better understanding of who they are as learners. I have seen favorable results with those who have historically struggled with math. Many of these students have certainly seen improved grades and most have shifted their attitudes and opinions towards math in a more positive way. The Stockholm study (referenced earlier) found similar conclusions with the “low achievers,” demonstrating the power of flipped learning.   

Even with new research coming in, flipped learning is still met with some push back from educators and researchers who have found limited concrete evidence that flipped learning contributes to better outcomes. For example, one 2014 study demonstrated no evidence that students in a flipped classroom learned more or improved knowledge of a subject compared to counterparts in a traditional classroom setting. Another recent study showed flipped learning had a neutral to positive impact on K-12 students.

Furthermore, a few key challenges have been cited for students and teachers alike, including increased workload for teachers who must create the lessons in advance, students’ ability (and desire) to engage in learning on their own time and access to resources needed at home and at school (e.g. internet access, computers, etc.) to make flipped learning possible.

Looking forward, we will likely see more and more schools explore flipped learning in their classrooms while others may choose to keep the more “traditional” classroom approach. That’s what makes the educational space so special – we can keep innovating and exploring new models to find what works for us. There is no one size fits all.

Interested in exploring flipped learning in your classroom?

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.) Start slow. Start with one unit or lesson, get comfortable with it and expand from there. You can also consider using lectures from other teachers online as a starting point.

2.) Experiment with the technology. Don’t stress over the video quality – the content is what matters most. Good news is, as flipped learning has grown in popularity, more tools have become available such as EDpuzzle, Zaption, Sparkol and Camtasia. And of course, you can also use your phone or iPad.

3.) Invest time up front. If you put time upfront to record videos, more time can be spent creating meaningful classroom experiences for your students and providing meaningful feedback. Consider summer break or long weekends as potential opportunities to record your lectures.

4.) Join the flipped learning community. There are so many teachers online who share their lessons and best practices they have learned over the years. I personally enjoy the Flipped Learning Network. You can also follow #flipclass on Twitter for more great conversations.


  1. “An Alternative Vote.” Economist.com, The Economist Newspaper, 14 May 2011.
  2. Caligaris, Marta, et al. “A First Experience of Flipped Classroom in Numerical Analysis.” Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 217, 5 Feb. 2016, pp. 838–845.
  3. Ferriman, Justin. “Interesting Flipped Classroom Statistics.” LearnDash.com, LearnDash, 15 May 2014.
  4. Findlay-Thompson, Sandi, and Peter Mombourquette. “Evaluation of a Flipped Classroom in an Undergraduate Business Course.” Business Education & Accreditation, vol. 6, no. 1, 1 Feb. 2014, pp. 63–71.
  5. Granata, Kassondra. “Study Assesses Effectiveness of Flipped Classroom Approach.” EducationWorld.com, Education World, 2014.
  6. “Improve Student Learning and Teacher Satisfaction in One Flip of the Classroom.” ClassroomWindow.com, TeacherView, 21 June 2012.
  7. Marlowe, Cara A. “The Effect of the Flipped Classroom on Student Achievement and Stress.” ScholarWorks.
  8. Nouri, Jalal. “The Flipped Classroom: for Active, Effective and Increased Learning – Especially for Low Achievers.” International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, vol. 13, no. 1, 2016, doi:10.1186/s41239-016-0032-z.
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