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Different class

A teacher’s research finds that pupils prefer the engaging experience of a flipped learning approach to traditional lessons and homework

Research question

What effect does a flipped lesson approach have on differentiation in class?


Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach devised by Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann. At its most basic, the traditional teaching aspect is set as homework and class time is used for deeper learning. The idea behind the approach is to make the best of the face-to-face time you have with your pupils [1]. The use of flipped learning has the potential to “authentically engage” [2] the digital native students who expect to learn information in a more immediate and continually connected way, with less tolerance for lecturing [3].


Classes: National 5 (2015–16); S3, Higher, Advanced Higher (2016–17)

I initially used some worked examples lessons with my N5 class to compare engagement and success with worked examples. The structure of the flipped lessons changed and improved over time. All lessons allowed for small-group tutorials for those that required extra support or increased challenge.

Initial lessons:

  • video for homework
  • starter question
  • set of questions to try.

Lessons now:

  • video and quiz for homework
  • starter question
  • choice of differentiated tasks
  • plenary question.

Data gathering involved pupil work (homework quizzes), observations and questionnaires.


Over time there was an improvement in engagement with homework. For the N5 class, 15/20 pupils routinely completed traditional homework. Initially the same 15 completed flipped lesson homework. By the end of the year this had increased to 18 pupils.

One hundred per cent of pupils who responded to the questionnaire preferred flipped lessons to traditional lessons and homework. Pupils reasons for preferring flipped lesson were:

  • decreased pressure in homework needing to be correct
  • working at their own pace
  • more in-class teacher help.

Pupils see the main drawback as not being able to ask questions when initially learning material.

Observational data concluded that whole-class instruction was minimised to a few minutes at the start of the lesson, after which all pupils engaged in tasks appropriate to their needs.

Pupil quizzes completed before class allowed me to implement small-group tutorials to target specific needs in class.

Use of a choice of differentiated tasks allowed pupils to work on the level they felt suited them.

Pupil work gave mixed responses. A particular question in the prelim was not answered well but I feel this is down to the video being an early example that needs updated and lack of exam question practice. For another type of question, pupils were able to recall and use the process in a new context months later.


Wendy Adams, Chemistry Teacher, Ross High School


1. Bergmann and Sams, Flipped Lessons: Maximising Face Time, T+D, 2014, p28-31.

2. Unruh, Peters and Willis, Flip This Classroom: A Comparative Study, Computers in the schools, 2016, 33, p38-58.

3. Roehl, Reddy and Shannon, The Flipped Classroom: An Opportunity to Engage Millennial Students Through Active Learning Strategies, J.F.C.S., 2013, 105, p44-49.

Teaching Scotland

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Editor contact: Evelyn Wilkins

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