A hidden benefit in the COVID-19 pandemic: Rethinking physical geography pedagogy in higher education using a flipped classroom approach
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A shift in geographical pedagogy has occurred in the last decade with greater integration of active and blended (hybrid) learning techniques in higher education. A ‘flipped classroom’ approach employs an active classroom and inclusion of pre/post asynchronous course content in replacement of a traditional lecture-based format. This pedagogical research paper investigates the effectiveness of an online flipped classroom approach in the field of physical geography through student evaluation and reflects upon the enforced transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. An anonymous survey was distributed to final year physical geography students who experienced both on-campus and online education, to evaluate perceived technological skills, broadband access and module delivery preference. Positive qualitative and quantitative results (66 respondents) showed an appreciation for an active classroom, increased student-staff engagement and the use of multimedia resources (i.e. using more than one medium of communication). Sixty-nine per cent of students in this cohort preferred the online flipped classroom to other online lecture-based formats (synchronous or asynchronous). Additionally, 59% of students chose an on-campus flipped classroom approach in replacement of a traditional transmissive lecture or option to remain online in a post-COVID-19 scenario. Overall, this case study provided valuable insight into student experiences of online learning and illuminates a potential pathway to move away from traditional lecture-based methods in undergraduate physical geography. The dynamic, interactive learning environment created by this alternative approach is recommended to enhance learning, accessibility and improve student-staff interaction, particularly for large class sizes where fieldwork may not be feasible.
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