An Evaluation of the Effects of Flipped Classroom Pre-Laboratory Activities on Students's Engagement with Laboratory Learning

Costello, Theresa (2020) An Evaluation of the Effects of Flipped Classroom Pre-Laboratory Activities on Students's Engagement with Laboratory Learning.


A key goal of Institutes of Technology (IoTs) is to produce workplace-ready graduates who have the technical and practical skills to solve real world problems. Consequentially, the practical element of a module is a powerful learning environment for future graduates. Improving the laboratory learning environment and students’ engagement, by embracing new technologies and adopting student-centred teaching strategies has become a focus area in educational research. Pre-laboratory activities (PLAs) have been identified as an area that with improvement can transform and enhance the practical learner experience. The aim of this research is to evaluate the effects that flipped classroom PLAs have on students’ engagement with laboratory
learning in Higher Education. The main objectives of this study are: to clarify key terminology relevant to this research; to critically evaluate existing literature relating to PLAs; to explore the learning theories underpinning PLAs; to evaluate students’ engagement with the PLAs and finally, to analyse the research findings in conjunction with the literature to present recommendations for future practice. The research
methodology employed is a mixed methods action research study. The scope is to evaluate students’ and the lecturer-researcher’s opinions of how the PLAs impact on student engagement for an introductory electronics module at AIT. It does not consider other groups, modules or institutes. The findings suggest that PLAs have a positive impact on student engagement in several areas such as attendance, collaboration, confidence, motivation and learning, but there are challenges to improving the engagement of some students. A notable conclusion is that PLAs are a worthwhile intervention in a module to improve student engagement and this is critical given the strong links between engagement, academic performance and student retention. Two
key recommendations from this study are; 1) to ensure a maximum number of students avail of the benefits of PLAs, they should be linked to a summative assessment element in the module and 2) future research work should consider a strategy to gain deeper insights from those students who are not using the PLAs.

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