Journal of Computing in Higher Education

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 449–471 | Cite as

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

  • Robin KayEmail author
  • Thom MacDonald
  • Maurice DiGiuseppe


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.


Lecture Active learning Flipped classroom Attitudes Learning 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Ontario Institute of TechnologyOshawaCanada
  2. 2.Durham CollegeOshawaCanada

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