flipped classroom

Is this the field best suited for the flipped classroom model?

Why the flipped classroom model is particularly helpful for medical students for its ability to enhance training.

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.

(Next page: Why the flipped classroom is excelling in the medical field)

Impacting the Medical School Classroom

The flipped classroom methodology has won support among many educators for how effectively it addresses each component of training: clinical problem solving, teamwork, technology, research, learning to acquire knowledge and developing basic bedside manner. Students learn to communicate with a team, excel in their roles as learners, leverage their strengths and learn from their weaknesses and one another.

The key to a successful flipped medical school classroom is assigning impactful pre-work. Simply assigning a chapter of a textbook or a video is not enough to significantly improve comprehension.

To benefit students, it is critical that content be engaging and incorporate a variety of study strategies. For instance, visual and auditory learners gravitate toward video content, whereas those who respond better to reading and writing prefer to utilize written notes. Kinesthetic learners may prepare by studying problems and vignettes.

To accommodate these learning styles and facilitate educational growth, pre-work must encompass all study strategies, which allows students to leverage their preferred learning style but also exposes them to multiple learning modalities and repetition, promoting learning, understanding and retention.

Finally, case-based learning lets students apply their knowledge to resolving reality-based clinical scenarios. To solve these real-life cases, students form small groups and apply the concepts covered in the pre-work. They often leverage tablets and smartphones to locate additional information needed to complete case studies and submit their assignment—just as they will in practice.

Utilizing Technology & Online Learning Platforms

In fact, technology is a critical driver of the flipped classroom model in medical education by providing students with the means by which to learn in their preferred style and at their own pace. This is particularly useful to accommodate the demanding educational, clinical and work schedules medical students frequently struggle to balance. No longer locked in a classroom, educators can also extend their reach from hundreds of students to thousands and better leverage junior faculty to provide a broader network of educational support.

Students and educators alike are increasingly leveraging online learning platforms, such as OnlineMedEd and Dr. Najeeb Lectures, because they allow them the freedom to choose the education style that best suits them. Because they can more effectively prepare for and engage in classroom discussions and activities, a more valuable learning experience is created.

According to Cihan Kadipasaoglu, a student at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston who returned to the clinical realm after spending an extended time away conducting research, an online learning platform was “an invaluable resource for efficiently relearning the essentials needed to succeed in MS3 rotations.”

Specifically, OnlineMedEd’s “short and incredibly well-designed lectures have helped me perform well enough in my Shelf exams to honor clerkships,” he said.

The most effective platforms ensure students process and retain information by accommodating all learning styles with content ranging from videos and detailed notes, to flashcards and USMLE-style clinical vignettes. On-demand access lets students review concepts and manage both classroom and clinical expectations, which reduces stress. Finally, by improving instructional efficiency, students can excel in their training, rather than struggle to catch up.

Calling it the “new gold standard for third-year rotations,” Suat Kilic, a student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said he listened to every video available on OnlineMedEd multiple times, which “helped me on shelf exams, the wards and Step 2.”

“It allows you to build a knowledge base quickly in the beginning of the rotation, which you can then build on throughout the rotation. I also used the notes extensively…the MP3s are also great for commutes to the hospital and at the gym, time which would otherwise be unproductive,” he said.

When it comes to medical education, there is no replacement for the hands-on clinical experience and patient interactions that are critical to becoming proficient in the practice of medicine. However, by empowering students to learn essential concepts and build skills and abilities beyond information recall, the flipped classroom—particularly when it is empowered by the on-demand access to a variety of educational tools and resources to further enhance the learning experience—represents a unique and promising educational opportunity for medical students worldwide.

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