In a flipped classroom, course content is introduced outside the classroom then followed up with in-class activities that reinforce the material. Pre-work, such as viewing a video lecture explaining select concepts, is completed before a student walks through the classroom doors. This lets students recoup valuable time that was previously spent in lectures, allowing them to instead focus on applying their new-found knowledge to solving cases and practice problems, engaging in teamwork and gaining research experience.
Because it provides both academic and clinical benefits, the flipped classroom model is particularly helpful for medical students for its ability to enhance training—not to mention the growing body of literature indicating that students who engage in this type of active learning perform at higher levels.
Traditional vs Flipped Classroom
In a traditional classroom, education doesn’t start until students enter the classroom and the professor delivers a “one-size-fits-all” lecture. With nothing to engage them, many students become distracted and fail to absorb the material in its entirety. As a result, the instructor will usually have to revisit the material, consuming time that could be better spent on exploring more complex components of the course. Further complicating matters, most students will only retain about 20 percent of the information delivered in that lecture.
Conversely, the flipped classroom allows students to begin learning in advance, at their own pace and in an environment of their choosing; an approach that is more conducive to learning materials that they might otherwise struggle to understand. Once in the classroom, the professor can spend time delving deeper into the more complex topics, making the best use of face-to-face time, furthering students’ ability to understand and retain the coursework and helping them develop skills to support a life-long approach to learning.
For medical students in particular, when clinical questions are encountered later in education and practice, they will possess the tools necessary to discover and learn from the answers.