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How can flipped classroom improve student engagement

in case of EFL at Umm Al Qura High School in Arass,
Saudi Arabia?
Contents
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................... 3
Critical Challenges relating to the Saudi EFL learner: ....................................................................... 5
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ................................................................................................ 7
Outline and Challenges in Teaching EFL within the Saudi Context .................................................. 7
Effects of the Flipped Classroom Strategy on Learning English ........................................................ 9
Attitudes and Perceptions towards the Flipped Classroom Strategy in English Classes .................. 10
Flipped Classroom Model with in Saudi Education System ............................................................. 10
POGIL Model ................................................................................................................................... 14
Flipped Classroom Model – Critics .................................................................................................. 14
Impact of Flipped Classroom Learning on Student Performance ..................................................... 16
Research Methodology ......................................................................................................................... 19
Qualitative Data Collection............................................................................................................... 19
Interviews as primary data collection method Vs. Observation as secondary data collection method
.......................................................................................................................................................... 20
Interview Structure............................................................................................................................ 20
Participants........................................................................................................................................ 21
Study Design: .................................................................................................................................... 22
Data Analysis: ................................................................................................................................... 23
Observation Technique: .................................................................................................................... 24
Validity and Reliability: .................................................................................................................... 25
CHAPTER4: FINDINGS AND RESULT ............................................................................................ 27
Semi-structure interview ................................................................................................................... 30
Observation Findings: ....................................................................................................................... 33
Appendix 1– (Questionnaire) ................................................................................................................ 43
Appendix 2 (Semi-Structured Interview with Focus Group ................................................................. 45
Questions) ............................................................................................................................................. 45
Appendix 3 (semi structured interview questions for ........................................................................... 46
Teacher) ................................................................................................................................................ 46
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

English as a foreign language is mandatory at all levels of education in Saudi Arabia. Despite

this, the Saudi students have been known to demonstrate very limited ability in learning

English and utilising it effectively (Al-Seghayer, 2015). The Saudi Arabian government has

recognised – implementing compulsory English as a foreign language program to be one of

the top most priorities. It remains a cause of worry that despite the tremendous political will

and effort on behalf of the policy makers, there is little achievement in the way of improving

English communication amongst Saudi students. Numerous studies have pointed out that

Saudi Arabian secondary school students lack in all four components of English language

areas: reading, writing, listening and speaking (Fareh, 2010). Academics have shown that

learning English remains one of the critical challenges in pedagogy in Saudi Arabia, with

students acutely limited in their ability to communicate in English (Al-Hamlan, 2013). One of

the major obstacles in the path of effectively learning English is that students are not exposed

to it outside of the classroom. Additionally, there are low levels of motivation amongst

students with regard to learning English as a foreign language. Hence, the Ministry of

Education in Saudi Arabia has chosen to implement technological reforms, as part of the

solution (Alresheed et al., 2015). There have been studies conducted within Saudi Arabia to

investigate the scope of technology as a learning aid (Al-Kathiri, 2015; Al-Shehri, 2011).

These studies point out that integrating technology to enhance self-learning as well as to

expand student’s exposure to the target language has had a significant impact on student’s

English proficiency levels and attitudes towards learning in general. However, one of the

most popular pedagogical instruments which utilises technology is the flipped classroom
model, has not yet been documented within the scope of teaching English as a foreign langue

in Saudi Arabia.

The flipped classroom model is a pedagogical tool which extensively utilises technology in

order to impart lessons to the students. It’s unique because these lessons are given via audio-

visual platforms “outside” of the classroom. This enables the teacher to free up the classroom

time for activities, group exercises, discussions and projects relating to the lesson given

outside of the classroom. Thereby, “flipping” the classroom, in the sense that instructions are

given via technology outside of the classroom and application of those instructions are

carried out in-classroom. In the recent decades, flipped classroom model has been a

disruptive force in education. It has significantly altered the traditional concepts and beliefs

around classroom teaching and learning practises. One of the main fundamental principles of

this approach is to afford greater levels of autonomy to the student, by giving them control

over their own learning. In terms of its application in teaching English as a foreign language,

the learner could greatly benefit in terms of active participation, increased communication

and interaction opportunities and overall higher levels of proficiency (Hung, 2012 ; Sung,

2015).

While there is ample evidence to support the claim that flipped classroom model is highly

effective in enhancing student achievement and increasing engagement, it has never been

applied in the Saudi education system. Therefore, the primary aim of this study is to conduct

and evaluate the impact of the flipped classroom model in a Saudi secondary school. The

scope of this study also extends to evaluating the attitudes of the students and educators about

this approach to teaching English. This study will also attempt to estimate whether the flipped

classroom model could be a viable solution to the challenging issues of the EFL program in

the Saudi education system.
Critical Challenges relating to the Saudi EFL learner:

Prior studies which have documented the application of the flipped classroom for teaching

English as a foreign language has reported positive results in terms of increasing

participation, motivating students, and overall performance. However, no such study has been

carried out in the Saudi context. Furthermore, the Saudi EFL learner is subject to specific

problems/obstacles such as limited opportunities to engage in English speaking outside of the

classroom.

This is mainly because of two reasons: Firstly, vast majority of the EFL learners will engage

in passive learning, as the only mode of teaching methodology utilised is heavy on grammar

(Alrabai, 2016). Researchers argue that teacher plays a pivotal role in teaching English, and is

often the only source of knowledge. Teachers utilise recommended textbooks from the

ministry of education, but rarely ever make any attempt to include other resources in their

pedagogy. This has caused the students to become passive learners with lowered levels of

motivation to actually practise English in real life scenarios. One of the main features of the

flipped classrooms is promoting “active learning” within the classrooms, by motivating

students to engage in self learning outside of the classroom, and applying that learning in-

classroom activities (Hung, 2015).

The second reason relates to the limited opportunities available for the Saudi EFL learners to

practise their English communication skills outside of the classroom. Furthermore, the

curriculum is designed in such a way that it does not promote the learner assume an active

role in their learning process. It is due to the fact that learner-centric pedagogy is largely not

practised in the Saudi education system (Al- Hamlan, 2013; Alrabai, 2016). Another aspect of

the curriculum which hinders the EFL program is that it is not designed with group learning
and activities in mind. Engaging in group activities and exercises is critical to learning any

new language skill. Scholars have identified that the key aim for the EFL program is to

enable the learner to be able to use English language effectively in real life situations. This is

hindered in the face of the above discussed challenges.

The next section of this study will carry out a thorough analysis of the current literature

surrounding the Saudi education system, its impact of the EFL program, and the application

of the flipped classroom model. In doing so, we will endeavour to highlight the key theories,

current discourse and conduct an analysis of the issues surrounding the application of the

flipped classroom model within the context of EFL.
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

Outline and Challenges in Teaching EFL within the Saudi Context

The Ministry of Education has identified teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) at all

levels of education to be of paramount importance. This development is fuelled by the

increasing need for the Saudis to integrate themselves and compete in the global market

place. In the recent times the kingdom of Saudi Arabia has acknowledged the need for

becoming a diverse economy which is not heavily dependent on Oil. The current trend in the

global economics is one which is dominated by knowledge as the driver of economic

progress. Therefore, it becomes pertinent to equip the Saudi work force with the tools

necessary to be able to compete with the knowledge based economies of the world.

Communication skills are quintessential in this regard, with English widely regarded as the

“business language” of the world. Hence, in the recent years there has been a surge in the

government’s interest in promoting EFL with in all its tiers of education.

However, despite the government’s continued initiates to improves levels of English

education there remains some challenging issues about the student population, tutors as well

as the curriculum in place. Previous studies have indicated towards the lacks of

communication practice (in English) amongst the peers as the leading cause for their low

proficiency levels in speaking English (Al-Seghayer, 2015). Other studies have pointed out

the need for increased support and opportunities for the Saudi students within classroom

environment in order to enable them to develop the neccesary cognitive skills (Al Hamlan

2015). This issue arises from the grammar heavy teaching styles where excessive focus is
placed on teaching correct grammar, however with little to no efforts made to teaching the

vocal use of grammar (Assalahi, 2013).

Researchers have attributed the shortfalls in the EFL program within Saudi educational

institutions to factors such as passive learning on behalf of the students (Rahman 2013,

Alhaisoni, 2013). Others have even pointed out to the flaws of the traditional pedagogical

culture within Saudi Arabia where the teacher assumes the role of a controlling tyrant within

classrooms with strict discipline applied around teaching (Alrabai, 2016). It can be argued

that such a regime will have adversely negative impact on the student’s ability to learn. Often

such teaching styles induce anxiety, fear of learning and other long term psychological

disorders (such as Radophobia – fear of getting beaten) within the students. Alrabai (2016)

argues that a teacher-dominated style of learning is a big factor when it comes to students not

developing the necessary language skills. Another major challenge towards learning English

is the lack of social structure within Saudi Arabia where English could be utilised for the

purpose of communication. To illustrate this, Arabic is the predominant language in Saudi

Arabia with all social structures utilising it for communication. Thus, there is no natural

setting where English could act as the sole tool for communication within Saudi Arabia.

Other challenges relate to the bureaucratic processes within the education sector in Saudi

Arabia. The education policymakers in Saudi Arabia have attracted criticism from the

academic community on accounts of being negligent of the student’s needs, scope and use of

English (Alrabai, 2016). Often the EFL adopting schools and universities do so as a means of

attracting government subsidy, with little focus on developing a robust teaching strategy and

curriculum.

Empirical evidence collected from Saudi peers show a clear preference for additional

studying resources other than the text books in order to learn EFL. Saudi students prefer
technology as an aid to learn English. Teaching methods which are technology based such as

the “Smartboards” have reported a positive impact in Saudi schools (Al-Kathiri, 2015).

Studies have pointed out to the distinct advantage which technology can afford in enhancing

the exposure to the target language in native like contexts, thereby improving the levels of

proficiency in the target language. Additionally, there is also a need for developing a teaching

strategy which provides greater autonomy to the students and increase their involvement

within the teaching process.

Effects of the Flipped Classroom Strategy on Learning English

There is evidence to support the claim that flipped classroom model has resulted in improved

student proficiency levels in areas of English language such as reading, writing, listing and

speaking (Kang, 2015; Hung, 2015). Applying a flipped classroom model has resulted in

improved test results in the context of international communication (Obari&Lambacher,

2015). Flipped classrooms also increase the student’s cognitive ability and helps improving

listening comprehensions (Han, 2015). Other areas of teaching English have been reported

from the flipped classroom approach such as grammar, vocabulary, oral fluency skills and the

overall student confidence with regard to communicating in English (Marek, 2016; Kang,

2015). Additionally, studies have claimed to increasing student engagement and promoting

active learning with the flipped classroom model (Hung, 2015). This claim is supported by

findings such as students autonomously took initiatives in finding the right learning material

and sift through different resources which they deemed necessary to be able to complete their

unfinished projects (Han, 2015). This displays motivation and active interest in learning

English.
Attitudes and Perceptions towards the Flipped Classroom Strategy in English Classes

There appears to be a diverse perception of the flipped classroom model amongst students.

While some students report positive impacts of the flipped classroom strategy such as being

able to better understand the course content, others complain about the complexity of

engaging in out of classroom instruction (Homma, 2015). However, statistically the overall

impact of flipped classroom model has been positive (Kang, 2015). Peers experience a

heightened sense of confidence and motivation to engage in classroom teaching when they

come to the class already prepared and acquainted with the course content (Basal, 2015;

Hsieh, Wu, &Marek, 2016; Kang, 2015)

Another distinct advantage of the flipped classroom model is the access to vast and diverse

amounts of e-learning resources it exposes the students to. This creates a positive impact

about the learning process and overall attitude of the students (Obari and Lambacher, 2015).

Studies have also reported that applying the flipped classroom model makes the learning

process more interesting, fruitful and satisfying for the learner (Kostka, 2015; Lockwood,

2015). Flipped classrooms also enables the integration of e-communication mediums outside

of the classroom where peers are able to share their learning experience, get feedback and

engage in discussions about the subject (Hsieh et al., 2016). Having such a communication

framework based outside of the classroom greatly helps in relieving the student anxiety and

fear of pressure of an immediate reply, which they might often hesitate to ask in classroom.

Flipped Classroom Model with in Saudi Education System

There is contention within the academic community that flipped classroom model could be

highly effective with teaching EFL with in the Saudi education system. The reason behind

such enthusiasm is the proven track record of the flipped classroom model from around the

world in improving student performance and overall enhancing pedagogy. Latest example
would be of Turkey where flipped classroom model has produced significant success in

improving high school results in major cities such as Ankara and Istanbul (Malik, 2016).

At present there is little empirical studies conducted in the use of the flipped classroom model

for the purpose of teaching EFL. Flipped classroom model has only been documented within

certain educational fields. For instance, Al-Zahrani (2015) in his study of the flipped

classroom model within Saudi schools reported initial difficulties for the students to

familiarise and adopting the model. This was mainly due to the limited planning and

inadequate implementation strategy.

It becomes fundamental to delve deeper into the current literature surrounding the flipped

classroom model in order to explore its application, strengths and weaknesses from a vantage

point. Doing so will enable the scope of this research by developing the correct flipped

classroom model for implementation.

The flipped classroom model originated in the United States where it evolved as a method of

enhancing pedagogy. Precisely, it originated at Harvard University in the late 1980’s. The

motivation behind it was to develop a teaching strategy which would enable Harvard

University students to assume more control over their own learning process (Mazur, 1991).

At the time, it was considered as revolutionising education practises. However, in practise

this largely remained a big challenge owing to the technological constraints of the time.

Therefore, the early models of the flipped classrooms remained largely limited in their scope

and affect. Nevertheless, they were still considered hugely effective in revitalising student

interest in some of the subject areas considered as dull and unattractive (Foerstsch et al.,

2002). The flipped classroom model evolved with the advent of the internet. It was able to

utilise the pool of educational content in the form of audio and video lessons by combining

them to deliver a flipped classroom.
The flipped classroom model was championed by two leading practitioners – Bergmann and

Sams. They are widely regarded as the pioneers of the flipped classroom model, accredited

with ushering the flipped classroom model into mainstream pedagogy. Bergmann and Sams

started using the flipped classroom model to teach in secondary schools, although it was not

long before they realised its potential in nearly all levels of education. It was realised that

utilising the flipped classroom model could have significant effect on the overall student

achievement and motivate students to better engage with their studies. Bergaman and Sams

were able to revolutionise the flipped classroom model by shifting its focus completely on the

student centred style of teaching. Doing so proved largely successful, with more reports of

increased student achievement. Key feature of their model was to afford the student

tremendously greater levels of autonomy as compared with traditional classrooms. This

allowed students the ease of learning at their own pace, and as they did, they became more

involved with the flipped style of learning.

The critics of the flipped style of learning have argued that by applying the flipped classroom

model, the role of the teacher is gradually diminishing, as students assume greater levels of

autonomy over their own learning process. Arguably, this would lead pedagogy into a state

where teachers are disempowered and merely viewed as administrative tools. On the other

hand, proponents of the flipped classroom model argue that this could never be the case – as

flipped classrooms are administered by trained educational professional who are equipped to

steer the course of learning whilst affording greater control to the students over their learning

process (Bergaman & Sam, 2012). A second argument in support of the flipped classroom is

the level of ease it affords to the students, such that they don’t have to worry about wasting

classroom time. This is viewed as a major problem in classrooms all over the world, where

peers shy away from engaging if they feel the pace of the classroom is too fast. In this regard

the flipped classroom has truly revolutionised modern day pedagogy.
One of the most salient features of the flipped classroom model is its uniqueness property.

Uniqueness property relates with the level of flexibility which the flipped classroom affords

the students. This is essentially to say that no two flipped classrooms will be the “same” in

terms of their structure, design and application. At the same time, there is robust guidance

offered by Bergman and Sams, which states that the real advantage of the flipped classroom

model is not in the instructional videos and other educational content which is made available

to the students. Rather it is the amount of time which is effectively saved by employing the

flipped classroom model. This strategy serves as the guiding principle for new educators who

are looking to implement the model. The time saved in classrooms could be utilised for

designing and implementing more dynamic and engaging activities for the students. This is

essentially to say that the time which would have used for lecturing under a traditional

approach could now be used active and experiential learning to engage the student’s higher

order cognitive abilities.

Flipped classroom model is widely considered to be highly conducive Bloom’s Taxonomy.

“Bloom’s Taxonomy advocates the designing of curriculum and teaching techniques which

promotes analysing and critically evaluating concepts. Such an approach is often regarded

as stimulating recall and recitation (Bruner, 1978).” By switching the classroom instruction

with other collaborative learning activities the flipped classroom model has been able to

achieve a higher level of bloom’s taxonomy in comparison with traditional classrooms. In

this way the students are able to enhance their skills in key areas such as inquiry, synthesis

and assessment (Bloom, 1956). This indeed can also provide an incentive for the tutors into

fast tracking the pace of the classroom and pushing more students into higher levels of

intellectual learning.
POGIL Model

If there is a parent model for the flipped classroom model, it would be the POGIL Model

(Process Oriented Inquiry Guided Learning). Begaman and Sams attributed the ideas which

led to the development of the flipped classroom style of teaching to this early method. It is

essentially the process of utilising inquiry guided learning to deeper explore a subject area

and indulge in critical thinking by the students. Famously, this approach has been accredited

with increasing students motivation and enabling use of higher cognitive skills by the

students.

In essence, both flipped classroom and POGIL model rest upon the same principle, i.e., to

allow greater autonomy to the students. Doing so enables the transformation of the classroom

in an environment conducive to experiential learning. It should also be noted that various

studies which have attempted to assess the impact of the POGIL model have reported highly

positive results in terms of increased student engagement and overall achievement (Hanson

&Wolfskill, 2000). It would be fair to assert that this indeed serves as a promising indication

about the potential of the flipped classroom model.

Flipped Classroom Model – Critics

Critics of the flipped classroom model are mainly concerned about the passive role of the

teacher under such a style of learning. For instance, Kronholz (2012) argues that flipped

classroom should indeed be treated with precaution, as it may very well be able to damage

the intrinsic fibre of pedagogy that is the relationship between students and teachers.

To illustrate his point, he points out to the increasingly diminishing role of the teacher under

the flipped classroom model. According to him, teachers will be reduced to mere
administrators in the learning process instead of being educators. This argument is backed by

the findings of a study into the online free access lectures available such as YouTube

(Bingham, 2011). The findings revealed that such platforms are indeed highly effective.

However, the study also points out to drawbacks of such platforms such as the lack of clear

direction for future learning. This is to say that without proper direction for the pace and

scope of learning, video platforms offer mere random learning.

Bingham argues about the ill effects of the flipped classroom model in terms of lowering the

standard of expectation from teachers when it comes to imparting education. He argues that

teacher’s ability to control and steer the classroom, as well as sharing wisdom and knowledge

will gradually diminish under the flipped classroom model (Bingham, 2011). It can be argued

that although it is a radical way of thinking, it does bear fair warning for the future. In other

words, extreme application of the flipped model could lead us into permanently developing

teacher-less classrooms. This would definitely had been the result of over experiential

learning and the everywhereness of education.

Counter argument is that most of the criticism of the flipped classroom model is due to the

miscomprehension of the model. The critics fail to acknowledge that under the flipped

classroom model teacher plays an integral role in steering the direction of the classroom, and

therefore could never be replaced. This feature is missing in online video learning platforms,

therefore, it leads to aimless learning with no proper goal. With that being said, the role of the

educator is indeed deeply altered under the flipped classroom design. The perception of the

teachers is also somewhat dubious. While most teachers regard flipped classroom as highly

effective and excellent method of teaching, there is also a growing feeling of being felt

disempowered and redundant in long term application of the model (Gardner & Hatch, 2012).

It should be noted that flipped classroom rests upon the ability of the tutor to design,
implement and steer the course of learning. Flipping the classroom only reformulates the time

classroom time, now available for active learning rather than mere instruction.

Impact of Flipped Classroom Learning on Student Performance

As the flipped classroom has gained momentum, there have been a significant amount of

studies on its impact in improving student performance. As a good guiding principle, most of

these studies have focused on four aspects of learning under the flipped classroom model.

These include:

 Flexible design of the classroom, conducive to active and experiential learning.

 Offering higher levels of control to the learner hence, effectively shifting the

traditional model of teaching and learning.

 A deliberate design, aimed at increasing learner’s cognitive function and developing

critical thinking and self-learning abilities.

 Developing a new breed of educators which are highly equipped at dealing with a

highly interactive classroom as a direct consequence of applying the flipped

classroom model (Hamden et al., 2013)

In addition, the flipped classrooms also offer the chance for the teachers to get involved at a

deeper level in their own pedagogy in an environment which is highly pupil centric.

Researchers have widely referred to the flipped classroom model as to be more rigorous and

demanding than traditional classrooms.

Academics believe that the flipped classroom has the potential to offer a better learning

environment in situations where the teaching resources are limited (Lage et al., 2000). This

relates to the model’s ability to transform everyday classroom sessions into hub of
collaborative exercises, practical learning without causing additional strain on the teaching

resources.

For the flipped classroom to remain effective, it is essential to keep the size of the classroom

comparatively smaller than normal classroom. Doing so promotes the delivery of an intimate

session. This is also viewed as significant challenge under the model, as doing this could be

logistically demanding.

Numerous studies have pointed out to the advantages of the flipped classroom model in

promoting collaborative learning. The result of collaborative learning is increased knowledge

retention, critical thinking and increased level of individual achievement (Minhas et al.,

2012). Utanir (2012) defines collaborative learning as learning in a pair or group, where one’s

own understanding is shared and advanced by learning of other’s experiences. This method of

learning has widely been accredited with enhancing cognitive functions and developing

problem solving abilities. Additionally, students also experience increased interactivity and

team work skills (Roberts, 2004).

It can be argued that a flipped classroom will be better equipped to involve a collaborative

style of learning in comparison with traditional classrooms. This is mainly due to the fact that

flipped classrooms utilised the free classroom time for engaging in collaborative activities

like discussing the learning content, experimenting with new projects or even critically

analysing existing theories. Researchers have demonstrated that applying the flipped

classroom approach could transform the classroom into an active learning environment,

instead of being dens of passive learning (Overmyer& Willie, 2012). It is widely regarded

that this aspect of the flipped classroom model is what enables the students to perform better

and improve their achievement levels.
In the next section, we will discuss the methodology which will be used to underpin this

study. Different approach to social research methods will be compared and contrasted in

order to identify the best fit for this study.
Research Methodology

The aim of this study is to explore and investigate the impact of applying flipped classroom

model to teach English as a foreign language at local school in Saudi Arabia.

A primary research design was adopted as a means of obtaining qualitative data specific to

this study, thus enabling a rounded conclusion. There are several mediums of conducting a

primary research such as surveys, questionnaires and interviews. The research design

particularly benefitted from observational techniques and semi structured interviews with the

students and the teacher.

Qualitative Data Collection

The advantage of using a qualitative approach is that it enables eliciting of information which

is interpretative and theoretical in nature (Brennen 2012, pp-113). A qualitative data is an apt

fit where lived experiences and subjective opinions are to be analysed and interpreted. As

opposed to quantitative data, a qualitative approach is best utilised in communication and

journalistic based research projects. Since, a qualitative approach facilitates the understanding

of various factors such as the supposed relationship between disparate groups or mediums. A

qualitative approach particularly fits this research study because the aim is to deduce detailed

and in-depth ideas and opinions from a cohort (Students and Teacher). Additionally, the aim

of this study is not generalise the findings, but rather to highlight the impacts of flipped

classroom model in teaching English as a foreign language. I acknowledge that a quantitative

approach, on the other hand could be useful in validating the results and findings of this

study. I urge further researchers to deploy a quantitate enquiry into the subject.
Interviews as primary data collection method Vs. Observation as secondary data
collection method

Lindloff (2002, pg- 132-137) emphasises, semi structured interviewing approach is

considered robust when trying to get an understanding of the opinion and outlook on a

subject matter. Semi structured interviews facilitates the sharing of the interviewee’s

experience, opinion through means of stories, accounts and explanations. Since the research

question in this study are based on collection of subjective and detailed enquiry into the

effectiveness of a different style of teaching (flipped classroom model), semi structured

interviews would be the ideal method of qualitative data collection. Furthermore, the research

design has also been taken into due consideration which will require a certain degree of

information disclosure which can only be effectively done through semi structured

interviews. Other means of data collection such as surveys, structured questionnaires etc.,

lack the required level of engagement to elicit useful information. Semi structured interviews

also provide the scope of probing and following up on questions in case of an interesting

response, or a need for clarification arises.

Observation will be a secondary method of collecting data about the operational aspect of the

class room functioning. The data collected will be interpreted in light of the existing literature

to offer additional support to the findings. Observational aspects for this study will include

areas such as: How flipped classroom is working in practise in the in-classroom sessions;

Whether or not the students are engaging in collaborative learning? How well are the

teacher’s equipped in taking onn flipped classroom design.

Interview Structure

The interviews conducted were conducted with both students (Focus Group) and the Teacher.

The main aim of these interviews is to shed light on the effectiveness of the flipped classroom
style of teaching in teaching English. Inductive coding was utilised to structure the interview

questions. Doing so enabled a coherent structure of the interview process which revolved

around key aspects of learning process, attitudes towards flipped classrooms, scope for

improvement. The aforementioned subject areas were divided into categories, each

containing a set of questions specifically designed to elicit the respondent’s expert opinion.

At the same time, it should also be acknowledged that sampling issues such as the relatively

smaller size of the cohort does not necessarily guarantee a complete extrapolation of the

group’s opinions and beliefs (Olubumni 2013, pg 103 – 106). Hence, keeping that in mind,

every interview question was designed with added ‘probes’ to lead the interview in the

direction of best answering the research question. This created a stronger framework which

enabled to remain focused on the aims of the research.

The limitation in sampling pertains to the non-randomness within the sample. This is due to

the fact that classes are already divided at the start of the school year. Hence in the absence of

a random selection process this study could only be interpreted as a quasi-experiment.

Participants

The total number of participants in this study is 35 (n=35), which is conducted on students

who were learning English as a foreign language at Umm Al-Qura school in Arras (Saudi

Arabia). A particular advantage that came from tactical sampling is that students in the

subject group were already familiar with the concept of flipped classroom model. The school

uses Smart-board technology for teaching particular modules, such as maths, computer

sciences and Science. Therefore, the participants were already familiar with the use of outside

classroom video lessons for in class-room activities. The teachers teaching in the subject

group were also adequately trained with the application of the flipped classroom model.
Study Design:

As part of the flipping design, a sample of educational content was put together via various

educational sources such as YouTube channels. The videos were then uploaded onto the

school’s Smartboard video portal where students could access it prior to the classroom

sessions. The entire process allowed a time lag of 1 days, which was utilised to curate

content, final edit, before it was uploaded on the school’s Smartboard portal.

Additionally, students were also encouraged to share their views on the quality of the

educational content by leaving their comments online. They were also required to ask any

questions about the educational content if it related directly with their learning process.

During the classroom sessions, teachers began by welcoming any specific comments about

the study material and answering any queries or doubts about the study content which the

students had. Following this, collaborative activities designed to poke the student’s

understanding of the content were conducted in groups of 4’s. The activities were also

designed to increase student autonomy by means of allowing them to act as the scorers as

well as the examinees. Each group of 4 was required to mark and correct the test of their

neighbouring group, also making them explain their mistakes.

It was followed by individual exercises to test the level of individual understanding of the

students and then a summary of the lesson learnt.

The teacher played the role of an invigilator by allowing control of the classroom to the

students and occasionally intervening to steer the course of the learning process.

The researcher took observational notes every few minutes about the progress of the class,

teaching styles, levels of student engagement and overall direction of the lesson. The daily
EFL class period is of 45 minutes. In each classroom session students learned an individual

grammar lesson.

The study lasted for a total of 5 class periods (45 minutes).

At the end of each class, 5 students (Focus Group) were asked to give semi structured

interviews on the scope of the effectiveness of the flipped classroom model, as well as to

gather information about student’s perception. Teachers were also interviewed as part of the

study to investigate the application of flipped classroom model from their perspective.

Data Analysis:

Observation Techniques: Observation techniques were utilised in this study. They were

aimed at gathering data regarding the student’s perception of the flipped classroom teaching

model.

The observation notes comprised of a list of questions, sought to gather information regarding

the student’s perception of the effectiveness of communication and collaborative activities

conducted in the classroom and the overall accessibility of the online educational content.

Semi-Structured Interview: in order to gather additional qualitative data about the student’s

experience of the flipped classroom model, semi structured interviews were conducted. The

purpose was to enable the students to put forward their views, opinions, specific comments

about the study design.

Questionnaire: Questionnaires were utilised in this study. They were aimed at gathering data

regarding the student’s perception of the flipped classroom teaching model. The qualitative

questionnaire constituted of a total of 11 questions designed to elicit information about the

student’s perception. It used multi scale for marking (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree,

and strongly disagree).
Observation Technique:

Observation is a highly effective tool for gathering qualitative data (Bryman, 2002).

Observation has a distinct advantage over other forms of methods used for qualitative data

collection. This advantage relates to the possibility of negating not getting appropriate or

insufficient responses from the participants. This study will utilise observation techniques in

order to be able to compare the observations with the current literature. While semi structured

interviews and questionnaire would be sufficient in providing data for the student and

teacher’s perspective of the flipped. However, only observation will provide the opportunity

to gather information regarding the functioning of the flipped classroom design and how it

corresponds with the existing literature.

Below are some of the key points for observation. These points will act as guidelines in

directing the scope of data collection through observation. It should be noted that this list is

not exhaustive, i.e., unanticipated observations may well surface during the course of the

study, which would then be duly included and reflected upon as part of this study.

 Is the flipped classroom design consistent with the guidelines shared by Bergman and

Sam’s?

 How well are the students responding to the collaborative activities?

 How equipped is the teacher in handling the structure of the flipped classroom

design?

 Are the students appearing to be enjoying the classroom?

 What is the level of teacher-student interaction? How does it relate with a normal

classroom?
 Is student engagement consistent? Do the students appear to be watching the videos

before classroom?

 How many classroom activities is the teacher able to accommodate within 45

minutes?

 Is there sufficient time for left for revision?

 Does the student’s English proficiency appear to be improving with each class?

 Are students raising questions which are outside the scope of their English lesson?

Validity and Reliability:
Questionnaire Validity and Reliability: Statistical tests were conducted in order to establish

the reliability of the questionnaires. It was found to have a value of 0.911 Cronbach’s Alpha.

Additionally, the questionnaire was also analysed by two experts who contributed towards

improving the overall validity of the questionnaire.

Ethical Considerations: Ethical issues are highly significant in a qualitative based research

project. According to Saunders et al (2003, pg- 67), ethical issues in a qualitative study relate

to the appropriate conduct on part of the researcher in line with the participants within the

study. The key ethical consideration which should be considered when conducting semi

structured interviews relates to the power imbalances which could be there between the

researcher and respondent. Due to this, it becomes likely that the respondent may be swayed

to disclose information, which they might later regret or not be fully comfortable with talking

about in the first place (Ryen 2016, pp.31-48).

In this study, all steps were taken to maintain integrity and respect the delicate structure of

power imbalances within the interview process. The issue of power imbalance is adequately
addressed by careful choosing of the interview questions, and following the interview

selecting what will be included within this study. According to Brennan (2012: 31-33) it

remains the moral obligation of the researcher to ensure that no physical and emotional harm

is endured by the respondent in the process of gathering information for their study.

Therefore, there could be no scope for deception regarding the intention of the qualitative

study. Thus, all respondents were duly informed about the exact purpose of this study, which

is to investigate the impact of flipped classroom model in teaching English as a foreign

language. The respondents were also informed about their right to withdraw from the study at

any point and given the option to remain anonymous.

Limitations: As discussed at the offset of this chapter, the key limitation of this study relates

to the non-random sampling process. However, there are sufficient checks conducted in order

to lend support to the reliability and validity of this study.

The results obtained in this study may not be accurate in comparison to other similar studies

which have been conducted for longer durations. Nevertheless they provide a sensible

grounding of the actual true results.

The next section will put forward the findings and results of the study in a structured manner

which will then be discussed and analysed in the following section after it.
CHAPTER4: FINDINGS AND RESULT

In this section, the results of the data collected from the study will be presented. Notable

amount of this section will focus three main components of data collection: observational

inferences, data collected from semi structured interviews with the teacher and the focus

group, and finally, the questionnaires.

Student Perception: The data collected from the semi structured interviews reveal that the

focus group’s overall perception and attitude towards the flipped classroom is positive.

The students indicated to having better communicational abilities during the collaborative in

class activities as well as increased autonomy. The students also reported a better learning

experience and increased levels of interest in learning English as a language. The student

responses were administered via qualitative questionnaires which were analysed using SPSS

with the help of Likert scale: strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree and strongly disagree.

Level of In-Classroom Interaction: Two questions in the questionnaire were aimed at

gathering data around the level of in class activity and interaction in the flipped classroom

model. Questions were directed at evaluating the levels of communication in the classroom

activities. Analysis of the data revealed that students strongly agreed with there being

increased levels of interactivity in the classrooms (Mode=5).

Levels of Student Autonomy: The questionnaires also included questions which were

directed at exploring the levels of student autonomy in the flipped classroom model.

Questions asked whether the students felt encouraged to develop their own learning process

in the flipped classroom model. Most students felt neutral in this regard (Mode =3). The
response indicated to negative feedback in terms of assuming autonomy in the learning

process (Mode=2).

Quality of the online video tutorials: Questions 5 and 6 of the questionnaire seek to

evaluate the use of knowledge gained from the online video tutorial and its application in the

classroom activity. In this regard, most students agreed that the online content of the video

tutorial better equipped them to deal with the in-classroom collaborative activities (Mode=4).

The students also agreed that online video tutorial have practical implications which could be

used in real life scenarios. However, the students gave a neutral response to whether they

could have improved the content of the video content by adding anything to it.

Ease of Access: Question 8 & 9 were designed to test the student’s view about the level of

ease of access to the online video content. As anticipated this parameter resulted in an overall

consensus indicating ease of accessing the online videos outside of the classroom. This is

partly maybe due to the fact that students are already familiar with the school’s Smartboard

video portal. In regard to evaluating whether the online video tutorial helped students

improve their learning process, they reported positively (Mode=2).

Overall Perception of the Flipped Classroom Model: Question 10 & 11 were designed to

elicit if the students have a positive outlook about the flipped classroom design. They were

asked about their overall experience of the flipped classroom design and whether they would

be happy to resubmit to such a study. In this regard, the responses were mainly neutral

(Mode=3). However, the overall perception of the students appeared to be positive and in

favour of the flipped classroom model (Mode=2).

Favourable Elements in the Flipped Classroom Model: One of the innate features of the

flipped classroom model is that every flipped classroom will be tailored according to the

needs of the cohort. This is essentially to say that no two flipped classrooms will exactly be
the same, even though they are constructed on the same principles. Therefore, in order to

identify which elements of the flipped design the students considered favourable becomes

important.

The classroom appears to be divided in this regard. 13 students responded in favour of the out

of classroom learning, 15 favoured the in-classroom discussion of the syllabus content and

finally and 8 selected both.

Other features such as easy access to online content, assessment style and feedback, and extra

time for study received little votes from the students in regard to being the most critical

factors in improving their learning process.

Perception of the Flipped Classroom and Recommendations: The questionnaire involved

two open ended questions for students which were directed towards gathering their

perception of the flipped classroom model. The questions also asked for any feedback which

the students feel would improve the flipped classroom design. The responses on these two

open ended questions were analysed using MS-Excel after being statistically encrypted.

Below are the findings for both those questions:

Q. – Which other factors do you think have helped improve your learning process in the

flipped classroom design?

The response rate to this question was roughly about 55 per cent. After analysis the students

favoured the in-classroom collaborative group activities and ease of watching online videos

outside of the classroom. Of those who responded to this question, majority of them

mentioned the role played by the increased level of autonomy in enhancing the student’s

learning experience. Additionally, the students also mentioned having the teacher guide the
in-classroom learning and collaborative study amongst peers as valued elements of the

flipped classroom.

Q. – How would you improve the flipped classroom? Please share any feedback or

suggestions.

This question received some anticipated and some interesting comments from the students.

The students suggested adding more choices of online video contents, having competitive in-

classroom activities in addition to the collaborative ones and running the flipped classroom

style of learning for longer durations. Interestingly, the students also reported they would be

interested in having the flipped classroom model applied to other subjects apart from English

such as Maths and Science.

Semi-structure interview
The main aim of the Semi-structured interviews was to gain qualitative feedback from the

students about their perception and learning experience of the flipped classroom model. The

students were asked three questions:

Q1) Was it tough for you to manage to find the time to watch the online videos? How much

time did you put aside for watching these videos?

Response to this question varied from student to student. On average most students reported

anywhere between 20 minutes to 30 minutes for every lesson they had to put aside in order to

fully grasp what was being taught in the video. Some even reported as little as only 10

minutes. The average length of the videos was below 12 minutes, as this is the prescribed

level by most education experts depending on the cognitive abilities of the students.

Some students also reported that they struggled to keep up with the online videos due to other

school related work, assignments or tests.
2) Would you say the videos were helpful? Why?

All the students responded positively to this question. The key theme in their responses was

the level of control which was being afforded to them. Students reported that they felt relaxed

while watching the videos as they could simply rewind or replay if they did not understand

anything in the first time. Moreover, they also felt that the videos were better than traditional

teaching methods in its scope of teaching correct pronunciation and expanding vocabulary.

One of the responses was most striking when a student reported that watching the videos

saved a lot of her time in doing in-classroom collaborative activities – “watching the online

videos help me understand so much more and also save a lot of my time in the classroom

activities, I enjoyed the videos for this reason.”

3) Do you enjoy the concept of learning by yourself using the flipped classroom? Why?

This question received mixed reviews from the students. While most students confirmed that

they enjoyed the self-learning aspect of the flipped classroom design. However, some were

more inclined towards having a teacher present to clear their doubts as they arise. Students

also reported that a combination of self-learning in teacher led learning is the best approach

to learning in their opinion.

Students also reported saving a lot of classroom time and effort with the self-learning

approach.

Teacher’s Perspective of the flipped classroom Model: Upon interview with the teacher, it

was found that their perception of the flipped classroom gradually improved with each

classroom session. Below are a few questions which the teacher was asked after each session.

Q. – What would be the level of difficulty or complications which you may have encountered

during the initial phases of flipping the classroom?
It surfaced that teacher was initially worried about the possibility that most students will not

engage in out of classroom self-study. They put it bluntly as – They (Students) may not even

open and watch the video, let alone understand the content. So that was reported as a major

obstacle in the application of the flipped classroom model.

Q. – Would you say there has been an increased level of in-classroom interactivity amongst

who have watched the videos? If so, could you spot it?

The response showed that teachers believed students who have seen videos and understood

videos prior to the classroom session, definitely showed signs of increased participation in the

classroom. In the last interview, teacher admitted that the overall level of student

participation had increased as the study progressed. Their initial concern about students not

watching the videos appeared to have been relaxed.

Q. – Do you think the flipped classroom teaching session went as they had expected?

Their response gradually shifted towards a positive one, with the initial reply being that the

session was filled with surprises in terms of student engagement and steering the course of

the lesson.

Q. – How well do you think the students are responding to the new style of teaching?

The response revealed the level of surprise which the tutor experienced. According to them it

went better than expected, with clear indications of increased student participation than

normal traditional classrooms.
Observation Findings:

As discussed in the previous section, the purpose of observing the classroom is to evaluate

and compare the execution of the flipped classroom model in practise with the existing

themes in the current literature. The findings are presented below with respect to the list of

observation questions to guide the inquiry.

Is the flipped classroom design consistent with the guidelines shared by Bergman and Sam’s?

The key guiding principle of the flipped classroom as laid out by the two pioneers – Bergman

and Sam’s is to vacate classroom time for active learning lessons by taking the “instruction”

component of teaching outside of the classroom. It is famously quoted – “No two flipped

classrooms will be the same (Bergman &Sams, 2012)”. However, this guiding principle

remains central with all designs of the flipped classroom.

The EFL class was consistent with the aforementioned principle. Classroom time was vacated

to engage in collaborative – group based exercises to apply the grammar lessons learnt in the

video lessons before the class. Group exercises were well executed with the size of the group

not exceeding 4 people in all exercises. This is reported to be an ideal size of a group under

the flipped model (Bergman &Sams, 2012). The exercises varied in their purpose and

duration. For instance, narrating comprehension took approximately 15 minutes to

completing by all groups in the classroom, leaving ample time for other activities.

How well are the students responding to the collaborative activities?

Student response to the collaborative classroom activities improved gradually over the course

of the study. To illustrate: at the beginning of the study, it took much longer to organise the

groups and brief them about the nature of the collaborative activity (roughly 15 minutes).
However, by the third day of the study, students appeared well adept at self-organising and

completing exercises.

Levels of deviation from the prescribed activities also dropped significantly as the study

progressed. We found that the students have a tendency of deviating from the assigned

activity. We believe this may be due to lack of initial motivation or difficulty understanding

the complete exercise properly. Previous studies have described this aspect of teaching as a

challenging (Mazur, 2012). However, there was a significant improvement in the level of co-

ordination between the students was observed as the study progressed.

How equipped is the teacher in handling the structure of the flipped classroom design?

The role of the teacher is a heavily debated topic in the flipped classroom discourse. While

critics argue about the diminishing role of the educator under the flipped classroom model,

proponents argue that teacher is required to assume a more critical and challenging role under

this model.

The EFL teacher was found to be competent in their ability to steering the course of the

classroom activities and discussion. It’s worth noting that the teacher had received prior

training in working with technology as part of their teacher training.

Critical challenge for the educator is to engage with a highly interactive classroom session

under the flipped classroom model. The EFL teacher handled all group exercises with relative

ease and displayed good communicational skills when interacting with the classroom.

Are the students appearing to be enjoying the classroom?

In order to evaluate this aspect, it was considered safe to look at student reactions throughout

the classroom. Previous studies indicate that students tend to engage in higher levels of

interactions if they are stimulated (enjoying themselves) during the classroom (Bergman
&Sams, 2012). In this regard it was observed that students particularly were enjoyed

themselves during collaborative exercises.

What is the level of teacher-student interaction? How does it relate with a normal classroom?

The levels of teacher-student interactions were observed to be increasing over time. For

instance, by the end of the study, the levels of student-teacher interaction had peaked. This

trend started off slowly with relatively moderate levels of interaction initially on the first day

of the study. It was also seen that as the students were easing into the format of the classroom

the levels of interactions spiked. For instance: the teacher was found correcting students often

in their pronunciation and explaining correct forms of pronouncing a word in relation to its

context.

In contrast with a normal classroom, the level of interactivity and overall interaction between

the student and the teacher was found to be higher. This finding was confirmed in the

teacher-interview later.

Is student engagement consistent? Do the students appear to be watching the videos before

classroom?

This is one of the critical success factors in the flipped classroom model. It has been

highlighted in the literature as one of the most important assumption – student will engage in

out of classroom self-study. It is crucial for the model to have any kind of positive impact.

While there were no provisions in this study to ensure student engagement outside of the

classroom. However, observing the level of response from the students during classroom was

assumed to be a good indicator of their self-study.

The level of interaction observed from the students confirmed their prior engagement with

self-study. However, on day-2 there was a drop in student engagement.
How many classroom activities is the teacher able to accommodate within 45 minutes?

The teacher was able to accomplish a total of around 3 exercises in each classroom session.

These exercises varied each day in respect to the scope of the video lesson uploaded prior to

the class.

List of exercises included: comprehension narration, pronunciation exercises, group activities

promoting basic sentence formations and so on.

Is there sufficient time left for revision?

The final 15 minutes of each classroom were set aside for revision and discussion any

individual doubts which the students may have. This is important for ensuring that students

have thoroughly understood their lessons during the class.

Does the student’s English proficiency appear to be improving with each class?

The level of the student’s proficiency was observed to be improving as the study went on.

However, it should also be noted that this change would be deemed as significant. This is

perhaps due to the fact that the study lasted for a relatively shorter duration.

In the literature, studies which have reported significant improvement have typically been

conducted over longer duration of period in order to observe any significant change in levels

of language proficiency.

The student’s pronunciation was observed to have been improved the most in this study. For

instance: initially the students struggled to fully grasp how to pronounce certain lengthy

words which contained silent letters such as – “Knighthood”. This was observed to have

been drastically improved.

Are students raising questions which are outside the scope of their English lesson?
Flipped classroom model derives its strength by allowing greater autonomy to students with

their learning process. Numerous studies have reported cases of improved critical thinking

with the application of the flipped classroom model.

In this regard, the findings are contradictory to what the current literature holds, i.e., with

steady application, students start to exploring avenues outside of their curriculum. In this

study the students did not particularly raise any question which could be regarded as

“outside” the scope of learning English. Perhaps this could be attributed to the newness of the

learning format and the longstanding tradition of passive learning which students in Saudi

secondary schools are used to (Alrabai, 2016).

In the next section, there will be an analysis of the results and finding in light of the current

literature and theories surrounding the flipped classroom style of learning.
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Appendix 1– (Questionnaire)

The following questions were used in this study investigating the impact of flipped

classroom teaching model at Umm Al Qura School in Araas, Saudi Arabia.

The questionnaires were distributed in the classroom after the study to gather

information about the perception of the students about the flipped classroom model.

The resulting responses were marked using a Likert Scale with options ranging

between:

(Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree)

Questions:

1. During the flipped classroom teaching, I feel my communication was increased

with fellow students.

2. In the grammar lesson, I asked a lot of questions to the teacher.

3. In the grammar lessons, I struggled with the self-study component of flipped

learning style.

4. I feel the exercises were based on real life situations with real life applications.

5. The availability of grammar lessons as videos helped students to use the grammar

Knowledge in writing and speaking tasks.

6. In the final grammar lessons, I was able to apply knowledge from video lecture in

Classroom activities with ease.

7. In the final grammar lessons, I was able to develop my own self learning strategy.
8. I required technical assistance for the videos on Smartboard portal.

9. Availability and access to technical support and resources have helped me improve

my learning.

10. I would be happy to extend flipped classroom model to other subjects as well.

11. I like the routine of watching the videos at home and then doing activities about

them in class.

12. Which of the following have helped you improve your learning experience during

the last unit? (You may pick more than one)

i. Availability and access to online content and course materials

ii. Evaluation, feedback.

iii. Ease of use of the Web environment (Smart board).

iv. In-class group discussion

v. Group collaboration

vi. Working on the assignments (watching videos) by myself at Home.

13. What other aspects of this course have helped improve your learning during the

last grammar lessons?

14. Please provide suggestions for how to improve the flipped classroom experience,

or another general comments about the course.
Appendix 2 (Semi-Structured Interview with Focus Group

Questions)
Q. – Which other factors do you think have helped improve your learning process in

the Flipped classroom design? Why?

Q. – How would you improve the flipped classroom? Please share any feedback or

Suggestions.

Q. – Was it tough for you to manage to find the time to watch the online videos? How

much time did you put aside for watching these videos?

Q. – Would you say the videos were helpful? Why?

Q – Do you enjoy the concept of learning by yourself using the flipped classroom?

Why?

Q. – Did you find working in groups beneficial for your learning? How would you

compare it with the normal classroom learning?
Appendix 3 (semi structured interview questions for

Teacher)

Q. – Please tell me about your previous experience of working with technology for

teaching?

Q. – What would be the level of difficulty or complications which you may have

encountered during the initial phases of flipping the classroom?

Q. – Would you say there has been an increased level of in-classroom interactivity

amongst who have watched the videos? If so, could you spot it?

Q. – Do you think the flipped classroom teaching session went as they had expected?

Q. – How well do you think the students are responding to the new style of teaching?

Q. – How well do in your opinion is the flipped classroom model suited for the EFL

programme?

Q. – Do you expect to use flipped classroom model in the future? If so, how would

you tailor it based on your current experience?