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A comparison of lecture-based, active, and flipped classroom teaching approaches in higher education

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare community college students’ learning experiences and performance for lecture-based, active learning, and flipped classroom teaching approaches. Participants were second-semester computer programming students (n = 103) at a mid-sized college of applied arts and technology. Garrison’s (2011) Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework informed our analysis of students’ learning experiences within each approach. Overall, active learning resulted in the highest mean scores for teaching, social, and cognitive presence. In particular, students rated teaching presence significantly higher for the active-learning approach than the lecture-based approach. Students rated social presence significantly higher for the active-learning and flipped classroom approaches compared to the lecture-based. There were no significant differences among the three approaches with respect to cognitive presence or learning performance. Student comments indicated that all three approaches had distinct benefits and challenges regarding teaching, social and cognitive presence. Regardless of the teaching approach employed in this study, five desired learning characteristics emerged based on student feedback including clarity, flexibility, opportunities for application, timely guidance and feedback, and cognitive engagement.

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Author information

Correspondence to Robin Kay.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Appendix A: Student learning experience survey

Appendix A: Student learning experience survey

Teacher presence (n = 10 items)

Flipped classroom approach only

  1. 1.

    The instructor provided clear instructions on how to complete pre-class video assignment(s).

  2. 2.

    The instructor provided clear instructions on how to participate in in-class guided/group activities.

  3. 3.

    Solving problems in-class in small groups helped me to learn.

Active approach only

  1. 1.

    The instructor provided clear instructions on how to participate in in-class guided/group activities.

  2. 2.

    I clearly understood what I needed to do outside of class to help me learn.

  3. 3.

    Solving problems in-class in small groups helped me to learn.

Lecture approach only

  1. 1.

    The instructor clearly communicated the student participation expectations for lectures/demonstrations.

  2. 2.

    The instructor provided clear instructions on how to complete individual homework problems.

  3. 3.

    Solving homework problems on my own helped me to learn.

All teaching approaches

  1. 4.

    The instructor clearly communicated how the learning activities contributed to the goals for this unit.

  2. 5.

    The instructor was helpful in guiding the class towards understanding unit topics in a way that helped me clarify my thinking.

  3. 6.

    The instructor helped keep the course participants on task during this unit in a way that helped me to learn.

  4. 7.

    The instructor encouraged course participants to explore new concepts in this unit.

  5. 8.

    Instructor actions during this unit reinforced the development of a sense of community among course participants.

  6. 9.

    The instructor provided useful feedback during this unit.

  7. 10.

    The feedback provided during this unit was when I needed it.

Social presence (n = 6 items)

Flipped classroom approach only

  1. 11.

    The guided/group activities for this unit provided an excellent medium for in-class interaction between course participants.

Active approach only

  1. 11.

    The guided/group activities for this unit provided an excellent medium for in-class interaction between course participants.

Lecture approach only

  1. 11.

    The lecture/demonstrations for this unit provided an excellent medium for in-class interaction between course participants.

All teaching approaches

  1. 12.

    My interaction with other course participants during this unit gave me a sense of belonging in the course.

  2. 13.

    I felt comfortable participating in discussions in class for this unit.

  3. 14.

    I felt comfortable disagreeing with other course participants while still maintaining a sense of trust during this unit.

  4. 15.

    I felt that my point of view was acknowledged by other course participants during this unit.

  5. 16.

    In-class discussions during this unit helped me to develop a sense of teamwork.

Cognitive presence

All teaching approaches

  1. 17.

    The problems posed in this unit increased my interest in C++/programming.

  2. 18.

    I felt motivated to explore C ++/programming related questions.

  3. 19.

    I utilized a variety of information sources to explore problems posed in this unit.

  4. 20.

    In-class discussions during this unit were valuable in helping me appreciate different perspectives.

  5. 21.

    The learning activities for this unit helped me learn what I needed to know.

  6. 22.

    I have developed solutions to problems that I can apply in practice.

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Kay, R., MacDonald, T. & DiGiuseppe, M. A comparison of lecture-based, active, and flipped classroom teaching approaches in higher education. J Comput High Educ 31, 449–471 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12528-018-9197-x

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Keywords

  • Lecture
  • Active learning
  • Flipped classroom
  • Attitudes
  • Learning