Effects of the Flipped Classroom: Evidence from a Randomized Trial

New Findings, School Reform, August 2019

In a flipped class­room, an increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar ped­a­gog­i­cal mod­el, stu­dents view a video lec­ture at home and work on exer­cis­es with the instruc­tor dur­ing class time. Advocates of the flipped class­room claim the prac­tice not only improves stu­dent achieve­ment, but also ame­lio­rates the achieve­ment gap. We con­duct a ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­al at West Point and find that the flipped class­room pro­duced short term gains in Math and no effect in Economics, but that the flipped mod­el broad­ened the achieve­ment gap: effects are dri­ven by white, male, and high­er achiev­ing stu­dents. We find no long term aver­age effects on stu­dent learn­ing, but the widened achieve­ment gap per­sists. Our find­ings demon­strate fea­si­bil­i­ty for the flipped class­room to induce short term gains in stu­dent learn­ing; how­ev­er, the exac­er­ba­tion of the achieve­ment gap, the effect fade-out, and the null effects in Economics sug­gest that edu­ca­tors should exer­cise cau­tion when con­sid­er­ing the model.