REVIEW: “The effects of a flipped English classroom Intervention on students’ information and communication technology and English reading comprehension”

by Christopher S. Nelson

The concept of the flipped classroom is defined by Bright Hub Education as, “the concept of students viewing lectures at home and tackling homework together in class, is a powerful movement” (Anonymous, 2018) has roots going back as early as Harvard in the 1990s. In this study conducted on a group of 10th grade secondary students, researchers Yu-Ning Haung and Zuay-R Hong apply both quantitative and qualitative approaches to a mixed-methods experiment to study the effects of the flipped classroom on students’ English language learning and information and communication technology (ICT) improvement.

The purpose of the research was to note the effects of the flipped classroom with Taiwanese English students with an anticipated positive outcome and way forward in one of the more difficult disciplines in Taiwanese high schools. A test group of 40 students was chosen based on English reading and comprehension assessment and personal survey, while a control group of 37 students in normal curriculum was introduced as a measure of comparison. The experiment lasted twelve weeks with test group students participating in the flipped English classroom for one hour per week. Multiple ICT applications were applied with YouTube lectures being the primary conduit for pre-classroom lesson content. The study was divided into two, six-week periods in which test group students were observed throughout and surveyed once in each.  The findings indicate a great increase in both English reading/ comprehension and ICT proficiency.

While it is poorly edited, ripe with many Formosa-English translation errors such as, “Inpopularity,” “ramdomly,” “Each group takes turn to ask questions,” and “a totally system was used” (YU-Ning, 2015, p.178-183), I found this article intriguing as I have a personal interest in the flipped classroom. However, I also feel it is quite skewed and possibly biased towards the researchers’ hypothesis.

Ethically, the experiment was conducted with proper consent from students, parents, and school administrators; however, there is no mention of an Internal Review Board which is concerning in that students were observed and surveyed. There is a problem in the demographics in that important personal factors of which could impact performance such as disparity, family support, and special needs are overlooked: “(1) demographics that elicited respondents’ background (e.g., school, student ID, gender, age, and English grade point average)”(Yu-Ning, 2015, p. 180). Assessment was done using a Likert scale survey to quantitate student proficiency in ICT, which is still subjective as it reflects how the students believe they stand versus externally observed and justified proficiency. The observations were conducted by two graduate students from the “institute of Education” (Yu-Ning, 2015, p. 183), but there is no mention of the actual institute other than a vague foot note on the first page which has zero textual links.

            The findings which undoubtedly support the research belief in the added value of a flipped classroom for English instruction contain the most disturbing element of this study in that the graphed results show greater strides in ICT proficiency and confidence for weeks 7-12 versus weeks 1-6. To me this simply shows natural improvement with familiarity and acclimation to the online environment and tools, not a great burst of sudden aha-moments as the graphs and narrative would indicate. With twelve hours of exposure per week and an entire week between classes to prepare, I see more of an inevitable trend than what is presented here. Finally, I don’t understand where the control group comes into play as they are not really mentioned other than that there are 37 students.

Ending on a positive, the researchers do a fantastic job of showing the potential for the flipped classroom technique, and they do it in a most disadvantageous arena of an English class in Taiwan. Their methods are clever and well-blended enough to give a wider spectrum versus simple observation (subjective) or quantitative assessment (objective… more or less). If this study had been better vetted and edited before releasing results, I believe it would have proven a much stronger experiment.  

References

History of the Inverted Classroom: Founders, Inspiration and Other Origins of Flipped Learning.
Bright Hub Education (2014, September 22). Retrieved October 5, 2018, from
https://www.brighthubeducation.com/education-industry/128706-origins-of-flipped-learning/.
 
Huang, Y.-N., & Hong, Z.-R. (2016). The effects of a flipped English classroom intervention on
students’ information and communication technology and English reading comprehension. Educational Technology Research & Development, 64(2), 175–193. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-015-9412-7.

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