Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Thomas Nelson

First Committee Member

Marilyn Draheim

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth H. Keithcart


For many decades, college English teaching in China has been teacher-centered, mainly focusing on the enhancement of students’ four basic English language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, with little attention paid to the cultivation of students’ higher order thinking skills (Tang, 2016; Wang, Xu, & Zhou, 2016). The teacher-centered teaching approach has led to the problem that after having learned English for many years, students cannot speak English fluently (Dai, 2001). There has been a call for promoting the student-centered teaching model in China (NACFLT, 2000). One relatively new approach to support student-centered active learning is flipped instruction (Egbert et al., 2015). In a flipped classroom, the transmission of information in a traditional face-to-face class is moved out of class time, and the class time is devoted to engaging students in active learning to foster deeper understanding of course content and problem-solving skills.

The purpose of this multiple case study was to explore the effects of the flipped classroom model on the learning of Chinese undergraduate students in a college English class. Using a purposeful sampling strategy, I selected a flipped English class in a private college in Shanghai, China, which can be regarded as a pioneer in promoting the flipped classroom model in China. I identified six second-year college students to be my respondents. During the six weeks of study in the fall semester of 2019, I collected data from multiple sources including one individual semi-structured open-ended interview with the instructor and each of the student participants, classroom observation, and documentation such as the teacher’s teaching plans, students’ journal entries, course projects, word maps and worksheets (both online or written ones). With a holistic analysis of the data collected, I explored students’ perceptions of the learning experiences in the flipped college English class, which lent an insight into the effects of the flipped classroom model on students’ learning.

This study found that the teacher partly flipped her English class. Most of the learning of vocabulary and grammar was moved out of class. The learning of the articles in the textbook was partly flipped, with the initial understanding of the article done before class and the in-depth text analysis carried out in class. In class time, the teacher created an active learning environment with a variety of activities, encouraging students to think and speak English. The flipped learning tasks prepared students for the active learning in class, and the post-class learning tasks engaged students in further learning and thinking. All the six students regarded the teaching model as “original” and “helpful”. They perceived improved learning in the active learning environment in class. In addition, they perceived enhanced autonomy in learning, improvement in their English listening and speaking proficiency, and opportunities for cultivating higher order thinking skills. However, they were also faced with challenges in learning which they attributed to their low proficiency level of English listening and speaking. There was one outlier who preferred the traditional way of teaching and learning English, though he acknowledged the value of the teaching model adopted in this partly flipped English class.





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