Flipped classroom boosts exam grades, flips perceptions

With faculty in half of college lecture halls and classrooms now using flipped learning models, it’s safe to say the method is no longer a fad. But does it actually improve a student’s education?

Nine in ten of those students said their learning was enhanced in the flipped classroom.

According to a new study released by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, that answer is a resounding yes.

The study, published in the Journal of Academic Medicine after three years of research, examined the results of a professor transforming his pharmacy course into a flipped model, which has students watch online lectures outside of class and complete coursework in class.

Flipped classroom students performed 5 percent better on their final exam than their non-flipped peers, the study found.

Russell Mumper, the course’s professor and one of the study’s authors, said that, like many faculty, he was originally skeptical of deviating from the traditional lecture model.

“I was teaching this course for over 10 years, and had never taught it using the flipped model,” Mumper said. “People have been talking about the model before we ever did the experiment, but nobody has really had the data we were able to generate. This is a truly comprehensive study, where before the idea was more abstract.”

Mumper “flipped” his course by recording 25 lectures using lecture capture technology created by Echo360, which also funded the study.

Students then watched the videos the night before class, and arrived at class “ready to engage,” Mumper said, adding that he saw an increase in attendance and retention as well.

It took Mumper 60 hours to record the reusable lectures, but the videos meant he spent virtually no time lecturing in the classroom. Instead, that time was spent disusing application of the learning material and even spent dispensing career advice.

“The main event in education is still, and will continue to be, in the classroom,” said Fred Singer, CEO of Echo360. “With the flipped model, we’re seeing excitement return to the classroom as students and teachers are both engaging in more active learning that demands everyone’s full time attention.”

More than 300 students participated in the study.

Nine in ten of those students said their learning was enhanced, according to the study. Ninety-three percent said the flipped course improved their understanding of key concepts.

Nearly 100 percent said the model helped them develop skills they’ll use in their careers.

Mumper said it’s this change in perception that he is most excited about. It wasn’t just that the students learned more, but that they preferred learning in a way that’s more conducive to life-long learning, a habit he said is important to students of all disciplines.

“When we asked students before the course, 75 percent said they preferred a traditional method,” Mumper said. “At the end of the course, 86 percent said they now preferred the flipped format. We flipped their preference.”

Follow Jake New on Twitter at @eCN_Jake.

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