Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




Taylor, Shelley K.

2nd Supervisor

Bruhn de Garavito, Joyce



This dissertation investigates how the implementation of a pedagogical innovation in the foreign language (FL) classroom enabled me to explore student engagement, autonomy and course satisfaction and understand preferred practices for FL development. The ‘flipped classroom,’ formally known as the ‘inverted classroom,’ has become ‘the’ new phenomenon in pedagogical innovations in the last few years (Jensen, et al., 2015). In a Flipped Classroom, direct instruction is moved out of the classroom and takes place at home, by means of reading text or viewing a video or a digital presentation. This appears, at least superficially, positive in that it maximizes class-time for practice and, subsequently, encourages student engagement (Bergmann & Sams, 2014).

This thesis takes an integrated article format and addresses unresolved issues in the implementation of a Flipped Classroom Approach (FCA) in the FL university classroom. Drawing on questionnaire data (N= 233), a pilot study compared the FCA to a traditional approach to examine student learning gains, engagement and attitudes in Spanish FL university courses in both conditions. Results from this first study informed the two subsequent studies implemented in two levels (Beginners and Intermediate) of Spanish FL university courses that followed a FCA. Drawing on online questionnaire data (N= 399 students, and N=12 instructors), and focus group interview data (N=12 students, and N=5 instructors), student academic achievement/performance, autonomy and engagement were explored, as were student and instructor perceptions of, and beliefs about, the FCA.

The focus of my study is the flipped classroom approach. This approach delivers course content that prioritizes both digital technology and active learning. Implications of the implementation of the FCA in a Spanish FL university course are discussed in terms of 1) engagement, 2) autonomy, 3) course satisfaction, and 4) students and instructors’ perceptions of the approach.

Summary for Lay Audience

Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach through which students are introduced to learning material before class, and use time in the classroom to deepen their understanding of the material and practise what they learn individually at home. Since the FCA was first implemented in 2014, there has been ongoing debate about its advantages and disadvantages. Some of the advantages include students have more control, student self-paced learning, and more opportunities for student-centered learning and collaboration. Among its disadvantages are a reliance on preparation and trust, (possible) student resistance, and it relies heavily on student motivation.

My study focuses on how to evaluate the effects that of the Flipped Learning Approach has on both FL students and instructors. My focus is specifically on the implementation of the flipped classroom approach in the Spanish as a foreign language university classroom to study if this approach promotes student autonomy, student engagement and student course satisfaction.

The following overarching research question guides my study: How appropriate is a Flipped Learning Approach for meeting the needs of today's students studying Spanish as a foreign language at university?