13 May 2024



In higher education, many international students are accustomed to the traditional teacher-centred classroom model, which often promotes passive learning (Hsu & Huang, 2017). However, when these students study abroad, they encounter diverse educational methodologies, including the flipped classroom (FC) blended learning model. Transitioning to FC can be challenging, requiring a shift in mindset, and learning approach. This blog provides international students with preparation and support for this transition by offering an understanding of FC, addressing challenges they may face, and provides practical recommendations for both educators and students.

The Flipped Classroom Model

The FC model represents a change in thinking in education, emphasizing active learning and student engagement. Unlike the traditional classroom, where teachers deliver lectures during class time and assign homework for independent study, FC flips this dynamic. Students are tasked with reviewing materials and instructions before class, allowing class time to be devoted to collaborative learning, problem-solving, and in-depth discussions facilitated by the teacher (Singh et al., 2019). This approach not only encourages students to take ownership of their learning but also fosters critical thinking and application of knowledge.

Traditional Classroom vs. Flipped Classroom

  1. Traditional Classroom:
  2. At home: Students are required to complete assigned homework and learn lessons.
  3. At school: Instructors focus on revising previous lessons, introducing new knowledge, and assigning tasks in class.
  4. Flipped Classroom:
  5. At home: Students are responsible for reading the materials beforehand and going through the given instructions before attending the class.
  6. At school: The class engages in collaborative learning. Teachers act as facilitators and students focus on problem-solving, case studies and in-depth discussions.

The traits of a traditional classroom model and a flipped classroom model are illustrated in Figure 1, which shows the traditional teaching and learning procedures both at school and home, where the teacher delivers the lessons in class, and the student completes the assignments at home. On the other hand, a flipped classroom is constructed in a contrasting way compared to the tradition classroom model. The main difference lies in the delivering instructions method, where students are expected to review the instructions at home and read the given materials before coming to class. Most of the class duration is devoted to collaborative and practical learning activities with the support of the teacher as a facilitator.

Figure 1: Traits Traditional and Flipped Classroom Models (Brack, 2020)

Challenges for International Students

International students face several challenges when transitioning to FC:

  1. Language Barriers: Non-native English speakers may struggle to comprehend lengthy reading materials and instructional videos, particularly without subtitles. This language barrier can impede their ability to fully engage with the FC model (Singh et al., 2022).
  2. Unfamiliarity with FC: Many international students have limited prior exposure to the FC model, making the transition abrupt and unsettling. Without adequate preparation, they may experience difficulties adapting to this new learning environment, leading to academic performance concerns.
  3. Technical Challenges: Navigating learning management systems and accessing course materials online can be daunting for international students, especially those accustomed to traditional textbook-based learning. This technological barrier may hinder their integration with classmates and impact their self-confidence.

Recommendations for Educators

To facilitate the transition to FC for international students, educators can implement the following strategies:

  1. Informative Approach: Prior to the start of the semester, provide comprehensive information about the FC model, its benefits, and expectations. This proactive approach will help students familiarize themselves with the new learning format and alleviate concerns about the transition (Singh et al., 2022).
  2. Learning Accommodations: Students who have English as an additional language might struggle with language barriers when pursuing their studies in a foreign country, therefore, providing different accommodations such as using subtitled videos in the learning materials, offering detailed explanations when students come across terminologies, and being approachable for further guidance on the lessons could be a useful tool that can support international students’ learning achievement in a flipped classroom. Video recordings have been found to have the highest effect among the instructional resources (Zheng et al., 2020).
  3. Flexibility and Creativity: Recognize that not all students will be equally prepared for class. Be flexible in accommodating diverse learning needs and provide alternative resources for students who require additional support. Incorporate varied instructional methods and activities to maintain student engagement and interest in the FC model.

Recommendations for International Students

International students can take proactive steps to navigate the transition to FC successfully:

  1. Open Communication: Be initiative-taking in seeking academic support and communicating concerns or misunderstandings with instructors (Wang et al., 2017). Take advantage of resources available on the school’s website, including contact information for academic advisors and support services.
  2. Explorative Attitude: Embrace an explorative attitude towards learning tools and technologies. Familiarize yourself with the features of the learning management system and actively engage with course materials to enhance your understanding and proficiency in the FC model.

In conclusion, while the transition from traditional to flipped classrooms may present challenges for international students, proactive preparation and support from educators can mitigate these challenges and facilitate a smoother transition. By embracing the principles of active learning and collaboration inherent in the FC model, international students can enhance their academic experience and achieve success in their studies abroad.


Zoey Truong, University of Windsor


Brack, T. (2020). Traditional classroom vs. flipped classroom [photo]. Maneuvering the middle.  

Hsu, C.-F., & Huang, I.-T. (2017). Are international students quiet in class? The influence of teacher confirmation on classroom apprehension and willingness to talk in class. Journal of International Students, 7(1), 38–52.  

Singh, J. K. N., Jacob-John, J., Nagpal, S., & Inglis, S. (2022). Undergraduate international students’ challenges in a flipped classroom environment: An Australian perspective. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 59(6), 724–735.  

Singh, J. K. N., Nagpal, S., Inglis, S., & Jacob-John, J. (2019). International students’ experiences in a flipped classroom environment: An Australian perspective. International Journal of Educational Management, 33(6), 1303–1315.  

Wang, I.-C., Ahn, J. N., Kim, H. J., & Lin-Siegler, X. (2017). Why do international students avoid communicating with Americans? Journal of International Students, 7(3), 555-582.

Zheng, L., Bhagat, K. K., Zhen, Y., & Zhang, X. (2020). The effectiveness of the flipped classroom on students’ learning achievement and learning motivation: A meta-analysis. Educational Technology & Society, 23(1), 1–15.  

Leave a Reply