How and Why to Make the Flipped Classroom in Medical Education a Reality

By Knowledge to Practice  |  January 19, 2018  |  Methods of Learning

Flipped Classroom with Chairs and Desks

The flipped classroom in medical education. Buzzword? Yes. Still worth seriously considering? Yes, because it works. Study after study have shown that interactive learning methods result in two times the learning of lectures, and new technologies have made this approach easier and more effective than ever. Here’s how and why to implement a flipped classroom model at your own program.

How to flip your classroom

In a traditional classroom model, trainees learn basic information in the classroom, generally in a lecture-style format, and then spend their time outside of class synthesizing what they’ve learned through assignments or independent study.

However, proponents of the flipped learning model argue that we should be doing the opposite. They believe that students, especially adult learners like trainees, should be using the time out of the classroom to learn the basics on their own schedule, and in the way they learn best.

Instead of forcing them to sit through an hour long lecture and hoping they don’t use the time to practice reading up on how to create the best artisanal home brew or another twee millennial hobby (assuming that they even come), you allow them to choose how and when they review the material. They might want to watch a full recorded lecture while sitting on the couch, or they might want to listen to an audio recording in ten minute snippets on the stationary bike. Whatever works for them is fine as long as they do it.

Need more tips for dealing with millennials? Read our post on helping millennial trainees learn.

Once they’ve established a baseline level of knowledge, trainees can take advantage of the face-to-face time they have with your faculty and other trainees to engage in interactive activities that will help solidify what they’ve learned. Some examples of these types of activities are group discussions, surveys using audience-response-system technology, simulations, and peer instruction.

For example, in the past you might have given a lecture on how to review the risk factors of coronary artery disease and then sent students home with their notes to study. Under this new model, you’d have them access this lecture online in multiple formats (video, audio, or transcript). When they come to class, you’d split them into groups to talk through different cases. After each group had come to a consensus, they present their case and their recommendation to the class and you guide the class through a discussion on why the group’s recommendation is correct or incorrect.

Why to flip your classroom

Most students learn better under this model because it allows learners of different styles more flexibility to learn they way they learn best, it encourages higher order-cognitive activities (not just memorizing, but analyzing and evaluating), and, at a basic level, it forces trainees to pay attention.

Flipping your classroom might sound like a little more work, and it is a little more work. But the work is worth it, both for your faculty and your students. Teaching becomes more interesting and rewarding for your faculty. Instead of staring at a bunch of blank faces, they’ll see trainees who are actively engaged, grasping new and important concepts, and ultimately providing better care to their patients.

In the case of your trainees, numerous studies show that if you invest the time and energy to restructure your classes using this model that they’ll learn more, retain more, enjoy the time they spend with you more, actually show up, have a better experience at your program overall, and provide better care in the long run. Hopefully this is why you went into medical education in the first place.

Looking for online medical education content to make flipping your classroom easier? Schedule time with one of our learning experts.

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