ACSME 2016 conference poster – Enhancing Science students’ engagement in flipped learning

Flipped learning is a type of blended learning where students are first introduced to new content online prior to class, and more student-centred active learning occurs during the face-to-face class. Despite the advantages of flipped learning, many academics are unsure of how to design and implement flipped learning activities in their curriculum. In addition, students often have difficulty adopting this more independent and active approach to learning because they are used to traditional transmission approaches.

I am currently leading a UTS Learning and Teaching Grant to address these issues in the Faculty of Science. The project is titled ‘Enhancing student and teacher engagement in flipped learning across undergraduate Science using the Flipped Teacher and Flipped Learner Framework’. My team and I have been working closely with subject coordinators to implement flipped learning activities using the Framework to address threshold concepts, field-trip preparation, key concepts for workshops and practical classes, and a complete flip in one subject to online interactive lectures with collaborative workshops. We’ve had a great start to the project where we implemented flipped learning using the Framework in two first year and two second year Science subjects.

I recently presented our first set of results at the annual Australian Conference for Science and Mathematics Education (ACSME) held at the University of Queensland in September, 2016. 


I really enjoyed the poster session at ACSME this year. It was a great opportunity to talk to enthusiastic STEM educators and share ideas (photo by G. Lawrie, ACSME 2016).

You can download a PDF of our 2016 ACSME poster and the Flipped Teacher and Flipped Learner Framework here

Title: Enhancing engagement in flipped learning across undergraduate Science using the Flipped Teacher and Flipped Learner Framework

Authors: Yvonne C. Davila, Jorge Reyna, Elaine Huber, Peter Meier

Conference: ACSME 2016 (Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education), University of Queensland, Brisbane, 28 to 30 September, 2016. Theme: The 21st Century Science and Maths Graduate: What is the place of our STEM graduates in the world? How do we prepare them?


Background – The flipped classroom describes one approach to blended learning in which new instructional content is delivered online prior to class, making time for more student-centred active learning during the face-to-face class. Despite the advantages of a flipped classroom approach, such as flexibility, more time for students to consolidate ideas, and more opportunities for collaborative learning and reflection (Kim, Kim, Khera & Getman, 2014), flipped classrooms are still under-researched and under-evaluated (Abeysekera & Dawson, 2015). Many academics are unsure of how to implement flipped classrooms and students often have difficulty adopting this approach to learning because they are used to traditional transmission approaches (Chen, Wang & Chen, 2014).

Aims – To facilitate more student-centred blended learning in our faculty, we aimed to:

  1. Use the “Flipped Teacher and Flipped Learner Framework” (Reyna, Huber & Davila, 2015) to design, implement, communicate and evaluate flipped learning activities in undergraduate Science subjects; and
  2. Build students’ understanding of the advantages of the flipped classroom model in order to improve their overall engagement and approach to learning.

Description of intervention – The Flipped Teacher and Flipped Learner Framework (Reyna et al., 2015; illustrated below) identifies seven elements that are influential to implementing a flipped learning activity. Using this framework, flipped learning activities have been integrated into the Science curricula.


Design and methods – In 2016, the Framework was applied in a first year and a second year subject. A mixed methods approach (Creswell & Plano-Clark, 2011) was used to evaluate the efficacy of the Framework, particularly the role of communication (element 6) of the benefits of flipped learning to students and academics. Student completion of pre-class online tasks was tracked through the learning management system. Within each subject, questionnaires were used to evaluate student experiences of flipped learning. Where applicable, student academic performance relating to flipped activities was evaluated.

Results – Preliminary data analyses indicate that the majority of students completed their online pre-class activities (e.g. >90% in the first year subject, n = 751 students). In the questionnaires, the majority of students in both subjects reported that they understood the benefits for their learning of completing online pre-work prior to face-to-face classes. Furthermore, the majority of students in the second year subject reported that the flipped classroom approach enhanced their learning.

Conclusions – Our early results indicate that communicating to students and academics the rationale for using a flipped classroom approach is key to successful implementation of the flipped classroom model. Further testing of the framework in other subjects across the science degree will advance our understanding of the impacts of and best practice for flipped classrooms in Science higher education.


Abeysekera, L., & Dawson, P. (2015). Motivation and cognitive load in the flipped classroom: definition, rationale and a call for research. Higher Education Research & Development34(1), 1-14.
Chen, Y., Wang, Y., & Chen, N.S. (2014). Is FLIP enough? Or should we use the FLIPPED model instead?. Computers & Education79, 16-27.
Creswell, J. W., & Plano-Clark, V. L. (2011). Designing and conducting Mixed Methods Research. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
Kim, M.K., Kim, S.M., Khera, O., & Getman, J. (2014). The experience of three flipped classrooms in an urban university: an exploration of design principles. The Internet and Higher Education22, 37-50.
Reyna J, Huber E, Davila YC (2015) Designing your Flipped Classroom: an evidence-based framework to guide the Flipped Teacher and the Flipped Learner. The 12th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, RMIT Melbourne, 27th to 30th October, 2015, pages 91-92.


This abstract appears in: Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, The University of Queensland, Sept 28th to 30th, 2016, pages 40-41, ISBN Number 978-0-9871834-4-6.

STARS conference – Supporting student transition: embedding reading practices into the first year Science curriculum

I presented this paper with my co-author Neela Griffiths at the recent STARS 2016 conference. A full version of this Emerging Initiative paper, as it appears in the conference proceedings, is available here. The slides and a short video from our presentation are available below. 

Title: Supporting student transition: embedding reading practices into the first year Science curriculum

Authors: Yvonne C. Davila (Faculty of Science, UTS) and Neela Griffiths (IML, UTS)

Conference: STARS 2016 (Students Transitions Achievement Retention & Success), Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth, 29 June to 2nd July, 2016.

Abstract: Although being able to critically read and comprehend scientific texts is fundamental, many students find reading the primary literature overwhelming and may lose self-confidence as a result. Our aim was to build first year science students’ confidence in reading relevant and reliable sources of information and develop their critical reading practices through a First Year Experience Project focusing on supporting student transition. To achieve this, we utilised a flipped classroom approach to design and embed interactive online modules and a face-to-face workshop in a first year Science subject. Student participation and completion of the learning activities was evaluated with students commenting very positively on the usability, accessibility, usefulness and relevance of the reading practices resources. Based on the success of this initiative, we recommend that discipline specific, contextualised resources which develop effective reading practices should be integrated into the first year curriculum.


A short video demonstrating the interactivity of the online modules is presented below:


Reference: Davila, Y.C. & Griffiths, N. (2016) ‘Supporting student transition: embedding reading practices into the first year Science curriculum’. Students, Transitions, Achievement, Retention & Success (STARS) Conference, 29 June to 2nd July, 2016, Perth, Australia. Retrieved from