College students’ cognitive learning outcomes in flipped classroom instruction: a meta-analysis of the empirical literature

  • Yinghui Shi
  • Yanqiong Ma
  • Jason MacLeod
  • Harrison Hao YangEmail author


The concept of the flipped classroom has generated considerable interest in the educational context in recent years, especially in higher education. However, research to date has been controversial with regard to the effectiveness of flipped classroom instructions on college student learning outcomes. The purpose of the present study was to identify high-quality empirical publications that examine the learning outcomes of college students and to utilize meta-analyses to determine the overall effectiveness of flipped classroom instructions. A systematic database search that included the Web of Science, the Education Resources Information Center, and Elsevier ScienceDirect, was conducted to identify peer-reviewed studies that met the inclusion criteria. A total of 33 studies were included in this systematic review. Two reviewers independently performed both study identification and data extraction. The meta-analysis was conducted using Review Manager 5.3 software, and the calculated effect sizes showed that flipped classroom instructions can positively influence college students’ cognitive learning outcomes compared to traditional lectures. Moderator variable analysis suggests that the pedagogical approach was the only significant factor examined that influences the effectiveness of flipped classroom instruction. These results indicate that the flipped classroom instructional model helps college students to improve their cognitive learning across a wide-reaching synthesis of currently available interdisciplinary research reports. The flipped classroom was also found to be more effective when instructors integrate individualized active and collaborative pedagogical approaches.


Flipped classroom Inverted classroom Reverse classroom Cognitive learning Higher education Meta-analyses 



This study was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Humanities and Social Science project (Project No. 18YJC880074).


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Copyright information

© Beijing Normal University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yinghui Shi
    • 1
  • Yanqiong Ma
    • 2
  • Jason MacLeod
    • 3
  • Harrison Hao Yang
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.National Engineering Research Centre for E-LearningCentral China Normal UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.School of Educational Information TechnologyCentral China Normal UniversityWuhanChina
  3. 3.D’Youville CollegeBuffaloUSA
  4. 4.School of EducationState University of New York at OswegoOswegoUSA

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