Dynamics of the Flipped EFL Classroom at a Middle School in Korea: A Complexity Theory Perspective
한국 중학교 거꾸로영어교실의 역동성: 복잡계 이론 관점

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사범대학 외국어교육과(영어전공)
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서울대학교 대학원
학위논문 (박사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 사범대학 외국어교육과(영어전공), 2018. 8. 이병민.
The Flipped Classroom (hereafter, FC) (Bergmann & Sams, 2012, 2014) has been widely implemented and has received increasing attention within the educational community. Correspondingly, the FC is proposed as a means of educational reformation. This study adopts ethnography as a fundamental research approach with an attempt to obtain a holistic understanding of the EFL classroom and its process of implementing the FC as it is. Moreover, complexity theory (Larsen-Freeman, 1997) is adopted as a theoretical framework to disclose the complex nature of an EFL classroom. By understanding the classroom as a complex adaptive system (hereafter, CAS), the study searches to capture some of the dynamic features of the classroom at a given point in time and its process of change holistically across time during the entire period of the FC implementation. The posed research questions are (1) What happens in the Korean EFL Classroom (hereafter, KEC) after implementing the FC for a semester?, (2) Are there any changes observed in the Korean flipped EFL classroom (hereafter, KFEC) across time?, and (3) If any changes occur, what triggers such changes in the KFEC and why?

This study was conducted in four English classes of grade 7 taught by the same teacher for one semester. The English teacher and her students were the participants of this study. During the 17 weeks of research, 39 classroom participant observation sessions and 56 occasions of interviews, and 137 files of video footage and audio recordings were gathered at research site. The data was analyzed inductively followed by the disciplines of constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), and NVivo (2012) was used during the data analysis.

The findings from this study are displayed in threefold: (1) changes of the KFEC at a given time (2) factors of either sustaining or triggering changes and (3) the changing process of the KFEC over time. First, the changes of the KFEC are indicated in four stages: Initial Conditions, Phase Shift One, Phase Shift Two, and Phase Shift Three.

The initial conditions illustrated a typical English class at a Korean middle school. This original state of the KEC displayed: a teacher-centered classroom, a vicious circle of having habitual stimuli and rewards from in-class game activities, and a dual track system of perceiving completely distinctive strategies on studying English in class and on preparing for an exam. Phase Shift One illustrated the expansion of interactional space and scope, both synchronously and asynchronously, brought into the classroom after exporting lectures out of the classroom and providing them as short video files on SNS. Phase Shift Two delineated a phenomenon where the teacher reached out to every student in every classroom. In all instances, the teacher had each student perform learning activities, which were independently tailored to the specific needs of each respective student in the classroom setting. By personalizing the student learning experience with a diverse range of multilevel classroom activities, another dynamic change disclosed in the Flipped EFL Classroom system manifested: the mentality is changed from a one-size-fits-all to an all-sizes-fits-one. Then, this whole process of phase shifting asserts itself as a process of retaining equilibrium between stability and variety in the Flipped EFL Classroom system, which is related to the interconnectedness of the complex adaptive system. A surprising case was also noted in which there was an increase of student willingness to communicate in English after uncovering the meaning of self within society and having opportunities to express that in English. Finally, yet perhaps most importantly, Phase Shift Three exhibited the most complex and dynamic features of the Flipped EFL Classroom system both in terms of participation patterns and English language use. By converging two different subjects–math and EFL– students link various content knowledge and enrich their English language resources. Furthermore, this causes a virtuous cycle that widened the scope of the students linguistic resources and stimulated the students to participate in more frequent and lengthened interaction. Then, again, this enabled them to retain more linguistic resources through interaction, whereby a continuous language development cycle was established. This phenomenon was interpreted with the openness and dynamism of the KFEC system wherein the system broke barriers within the subjects, and led to new patterns of interaction through co-adaptation, self-organization, and emergence.

Based on the findings, this study explains a working principle of the FC (i.e. from a closed Korean EFL Classroom system to an open Korean Flipped EFL Classroom system) and the detailed process of the FC implementation in the KFEC. Furthermore, some pedagogical implications and recommendations for future research are suggested.
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College of Education (사범대학)Dept. of Foreign Language Education (외국어교육과)English Language (영어전공)Theses (Ph.D. / Sc.D._영어전공)
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