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An Examination of Flipped Instructional Method on Sixth Graders’ Mathematics Learning: Utilizing Propensity Score Matching
Counseling and Educational Psychology
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There is a widely held belief among stakeholders in the field of mathematics education that we as a nation are losing ground when it comes to educating our students. In the past, technology has been used by educators to augment student learning. However, as we move deeper into the twenty-first century, the role of technology is beginning to change from that of supporting instruction to actively teaching students. Classroom flipping is an example of how technology can be used in this manner, and it has been posited that it could change the educational landscape forever. Classroom Flipping is the practice of taking direct instruction and moving it from the group learning environment to the individual learning environment (Mussalam, 2012). The concept of classroom flipping is a relatively new idea in the field of education, but is becoming increasing prevalent in the educational lexicon, as well as the research literature. Recent surveys in the field demonstrate an increase in the number of teachers, administrators and stake holders who are interested in the practice and believe it is a valid teaching method that will, for many content areas, become the preferred method of content delivery. Research in the field at the secondary and post-secondary level is becoming more readily available; however there has been very little published research at the elementary level. Research at this level is fraught with ethical, legal, and logistical difficulties. As traditional experimental methods aren’t always practical to educators and researchers, this study explored the use of a statistical method known as Propensity Score Matching (PSM). PSM enables researchers to use data from observational studies to create a “quasi-experimental” setting that mimics a randomized controlled trial in order to determine treatment effects (Rosenbaum and Rubin, 1983). PSM also has been shown to reduce the biases known to plague observational studies when attempting to use them to determine treatment effects. PSM relies heavily on the ability of users to establish covariate balance through the use of propensity scores, and this dissertation will provide readers with the criteria by which researchers can ensure covariate balance. For this study, statistical and graphical tools were used to determine that a 1:5 treatment to control group ratio, without replacement of control subjects, and with a .1 caliper distance used to match control units was optimal for the purposes of matching subjects.Second, utilizing PSM, this study determined that there were no statistically significant differences between the learning outcomes of sixth graders who have received a flipped learning experience and those who haven’t on a standardized assessment. This study utilized the data from a teacher in the Washoe County School District (WCSD) known to have used the flipped learning method with her sixth grade math students and compared their learning outcomes on the Math Criterion Reference Test (CRT) to other sixth grade students who didn’t receive flipped instruction in their sixth mathematics classes. Third, this study used survey responses from WCSD teachers who have flipped their math and science classes to explore their perceptions of (a) what constitutes a flipped classroom, (b) how student performance has changed as a result of flipping their classes, and (c) how their roles as educators has changed as a consequence of flipping their classes. The survey results showed that teachers’ beliefs about what constitutes a flipped classroom is consistent with the literature. They also believe that student performance has improved as a result of flipping their classes. Lastly, they believe their roles as educators have changed into more collaborative roles, where they are able to spend more time and explore deeper concepts with their students.This study will add to the growing body of literature around classroom flipping and Propensity Score Matching in educational research. Ideally, educational researchers will use this study as a starting point to continue and expand upon the ideas introduced in this study, and conclusively determine a concrete set of best practices both for educators choosing to flip their classes and educational researchers wanting to use PSM in their work.