Anyone who’s ever tried to get the attention of someone glued to their phone can’t deny that digital technology is engaging. But does that engagement still hold, and produce measurable results, when digital technology is being used in formal education? Two different pedagogical methods utilizing digital technology, blended learning and flipped learning, are used by many instructors in the hopes of increasing effectiveness and efficiency while also being engaging. Researchers in Australia looked into whether the results from these two methods were comparable in students’ eyes.

While blended learning utilizes both online instruction and face-to-face classroom instruction, flipped learning takes place when a strictly in-person class utilizes content online prior to meeting sessions, such as pre-recorded lectures, to allow for more interactive in-class learning. Researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne found that although there is a perceived connection between student engagement, performance, and satisfaction and these methods of learning, there wasn’t proof of this empirical link. Therefore, over the course of four semesters, they collected data on 348 university students in the form of satisfaction surveys, final grades, and perceived performance.

The study found that students engaging in both flipped and blended learning do believe their engagement to be increased, but only those in flipped classrooms felt their performance increased. The researchers also found that for students in flipped classrooms, perception of performance positively influenced their overall satisfaction with the course. Those in blended courses, however, demonstrated no relationship between the pedagogical style and performance perception. While both were overall seen as enjoyable, only flipped learning was found to influence student perception of learning.

These findings only consider student perceptions, not realities, but engagement and satisfaction are strong motivating factors in course design. Looking at gaps can help us understand what students believe to be working, and what they feel isn’t influential to their learning. Changing methodologies alone isn’t enough; changing practices to match expectations and student interests is important too.

Fisher, R, Perényi, A., & Birdthistle, N. (2018). The positive relationship between flipped and blended learning and student engagement, performance and satisfaction. Active Learning in Higher Education.

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