The impact of struggling students' self-efficacy, agency and horizons for action on their learning in a flipped environment

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Conference Proceeding
44th Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education - Engineering Education on Top of the World: Industry-University Cooperation, SEFI 2016, 2016
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Flipped instruction is a form of blended learning that moves significant instruction and preparation outside the classroom to facilitate ‘in class’ time to be used for more participative learning activities. Students report liking flipped instruction compared to the more traditional lecture style delivery format commenting that while it often challenged their approaches to learning, it had a positive impact on their learning experience and promoted them to become more independent and responsible learners. However, some students struggle to succeed in flipped learning environments. Alternate learning pathways in the form of an intensive block mode were provided for these students. This paper reports our findings from our exploration of the learning behaviours of students undertaking these alternate sessions. FINDINGS Most of the students who undertook the alternate pathway activities described a dependent style of learning. While the alternate activities assisted students to learn, evidence suggests that this may have been in part because their design compensated for underdevelopment in the participants’ self-efficacy and agency that often limited their horizons for action. In particular, the smaller cohort and nature of the activities facilitated more regular and specific feedback much of which was unsolicited masking low self-efficacy that had previously resulted in students giving up when they encountered difficulties. Similarly, because the instructor in the alternate activities dropped in asking questions and providing feedback, students didn’t need to exercise their own agency in working out how to overcome obstacles or address a problem. Hence while the alternate block mode activities assisted students to learn, our study suggests that they didn’t particularly develop participant’s self-efficacy, agency and capacity to expand their horizons for action suggesting these students may well struggle again in future subjects that utilise large flipped classrooms. As a result of this research for large (> 300 students) first year class we intend to adopt a “hybrid flip” where students have access to a one-hour lecture supported by 2 to 3 hours of tutorial. The flipped approach will still be evident with the one-hour lecture providing instruction support and scaffolding to help students make connections and to successfully use the learning resources and opportunities provided. In addition, as part of their tutorials students will be introduced to learning theories and asked in regard to their learning, to self-assess, plan opportunities to develop and evaluate their self-efficacy, agency and capacity to change their horizons for action. The intention being for students to have access to different perspectives to evaluate/reflect and take action in developing their skills and capacity to become more self-actualised learners. It is envisaged that this will open up learning pathways for those students who feel unsupported and disengaged in large classes employing flipped instruction.
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