The Flipped Classroom Explained

The 'flipped classroom' is the term commonly defined as a pedagogical model in which traditional lecture and homework elements are reversed (Hamden et al, 2013; Lage et al, 2000).

Students engage with interactive content focusing on key concepts prior to class allowing face-to-face time for collaborative activities that clarify concepts and contextualise knowledge through application , analysis, and planning and problem solving (Anderson et al., 2001; Karanicolas & Snelling, 2010; Snelling et al, 2009). There is limited published evidence on student learning outcomes from flipped learning approaches, particularly in higher education (Hamden et al., 2013; McLaughlin et al., 2014).

There is, however, well documented evidence of the efficacy of many core aspects of learning activities used in flipped classrooms, such as preparatory activities conducted prior to face-to-face sessions, higher order learning during class time, active learning and peer instruction (reviewed in Hamden et al., 2013; McLaughlin et al., 2014; Freeman et al., 2014). Consequently, the overarching aim of flipped learning is to engage students through responsive learning environments, designed to prepare and motivate them to confidently undertake assessment tasks through interactivity and feedback loops strategically embedded at all stages of this pedagogical approach.

Therefore, we describe the flipped classroom as:

"An engaging series of learning segments, that are closely linked to learning and assessment outcomes, that provide feedback to the learner during each stage. Carefully designed pre-class activities assist students to learn key concepts in a self-paced manner, developing their confidence and motivation to engage in peer-led discussions during class that lead to synthesis and application of these key concepts. Post-class assessment activities are clearly connected to pre-class and face-to-face class learning experiences and address ‘capabilities that count,’ making the students' learning relevant, real and sustainable.”

Student's perspective to a flipped classroom approach

The project: Translating the Flipped Classroom Concept to Practice in First Year Health Sciences.

Pilot Project: 2010-2013

The Project: 2015-2017    Final report  |  Statement of attainment

This Office for Learning and Teaching Development and Innovation Project Grant is lead by the School of Dentistry at the University of Adelaide in partnership with Health Sciences Faculties from the Australian Catholic University and the University of Tasmania. This project focuses on the assumption that flipped classrooms in health sciences produce improved learning outcomes for first year students through the capacity building of their teachers to translate the flipped classroom concept into effective teaching practice.

During the time of this project, the level of flipped learning effectiveness will be evaluated cross a broad range of health sciences courses and will provide baseline data on current first-year health science students’ preferences for different learning activities, their motivations and learning strategies.  These data will inform the development of resources that will build capacity in teachers to support students learning through effectively designed flipped classrooms.

Pilot projects conducted by the three partner universities from 2010 – 2013 have steered the initial design of this project to ultimately provide teachers with a Flipkit that will outline the 'how to' implement the flipped classroom into first-year health sciences curricula.  This will involve development of our blueprinting process for teachers, to address the significant gap that exists between the flipped classroom concept and effective flipped classroom practice. Our Flipkit is under development and is informed through peer review (from feedback elicited through a series of national staff development workshops, follow up sessions, staff focus groups and a University of Adelaide Flipped Classroom Community of Practice) and ongoing student feedback through our evaluation plan. Integral to this Flipkit are the 7 Steps to Flipping with a Framework, which is a simple stepwise approach outlined in the diagram below, that assists teachers to design effective flipped classes.

Flipped classroom design framework


Design framework
  • View the text version of the above image

    Learning progresses in this direction → Learning objectives using effective verbs
    Individual or group Clarify questions from pre-class work Time with teacher & peers Individual or group
    Understand and remember
    During Class
    Apply and analyse
    Create, evaluate & reflect
    Topic orientation and staging activity

    Active learning cycle of teacher & peer feedback

    Formative assessment Summative assessment

    Practice examples cycle of feedback online or in person

    Performance assessed against LOs
    ← Design progresses in this direction

7 steps to flipping with a framework

7 steps to flipping diagram

(Karanicolas, S., Snelling C., and Winning, T., 2015)

  • View the text version of the 7 steps to flipping

    The below steps to flipping with a framework form part of a cyclical process:

    • Step 1: Learning outcomes
    • Step 2: Implementation Strategy
    • Step 3: Develop the pre-class learning activities
    • Step 4: Develop and link the class activities
    • Step 5: Deliver the Flipped Class
    • Step 6: Link to Post Class
    • Step 7: Evaluate the Flipped Classroom

Specifically, peer reviewed resources contain a set of evidence-based instruments that will assist teachers to blueprint, sequence, select technology, induct students and assist them to evaluate their flipped classrooms so that their outcomes are maximised . Resources are also benchmarked against the RATED CLASS A quality assurance framework developed by Scott, 2008 to enhance student engagement through the use of quality learning resources. Finally, we are evaluating the effect that flipped learning has on student outcomes and levels of engagement in first-year health sciences with dissemination across year levels and disciplines as the project progresses. Staff development workshops are being conducted across the sector in Australia and New Zealand that to enable teachers to implement our concept of flipped classes into effective teaching and learning practice.


  • Anderson, L. W., and Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.
  • Freeman, S., Eddy, S.L., McDonough, M., Smith, M.K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., Wenderoth, M.P.  (2014). Active learning increased student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 8410-8415.
  • Hamden, N., et al. (2013). A Review of Flipped Learning
  • Karanicolas, S., and Snelling, C. (2010). Making the transition: achieving content connectivity and student engagement through flexible learning tools. In Proceedings of the Distance Education Association of New Zealand (DEANZ) Conference Wellington 2010.
  • Lage, M.J. and Platt, G.J.  (2000) The internet and the inverted Classroom. Journal of Economic Education, Vol. 31, p. 11.
  • McLaughlin, J. E., et al (2014). The flipped classroom: a course redesign to foster learning and engagement in a health professions school. Academic Medicine, 89(2), 236-243.
  • Snelling, C., et al. Making the Connection: using on-line technologies to determine the learning needs of first year students in a human biology program, In Proceedings of the 12th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education (FYHE) annual conference, 29 June-1 July 2009, Townsville.
  • Scott, G., (2008). University Student Engagement and Satisfaction with Learning and Teaching. Review of Australian Higher Education Request for Research and Analysis. University of Western Sydney.

Project leaders

Project leaders

Associate Professor Sophie Karanicolas, Associate Professor Cathy Snelling, Associate Professor Tracey Winning