Flipped Classrooms and an example at Stanford Med

Flipped Classrooms and an example at Stanford Med

Is in-class lecture best?

In medical school, I dreaded waking early to drive to school, only to sit again for two hours, early in the morning, in a large auditorium for a monotonous lecture. Even a double-shot espresso didn’t help me stay awake.

In my second year, however, the school implemented a program which not only recorded the audio of the lectures, but also recorded the powerpoint slides and the mouse movements on the screen to simulate the in-classroom experience (webinar style).

I discovered I was much more efficient in learning and absorbing the material by sleeping in and working late into the nights with the recordings, since I tend to do my best learning later in the day. I could also pause the lecture when needed or look up ancillary materials to reinforce and deepen my learning.

Using class time for interactive activities shown effective

In this May 2011 paper in Science magazine, Louis Deslauriers, Ellen Schelew, and Carl Wieman demonstrate the effectiveness of using class time for interactive activities instead of classic lecture.  In the study, the students spent "all their time in class engaged in deliberate practice at 'thinking scientifically' in the form of making and testing predictions and arguments about the relevant topics, solving problems, and critiquing their own reasoning and that of others."

The authors demonstrated that these activities improved student engagement and interaction and almost doubled test scores on the subject matter in a large undergraduate physics course.

Flipped classrooms

This concept of individually paced learning has been broadened to the concept of the “flipped classroom” where students view didactics at their own pace at home, and come to class to perform shared activities that reinforce and deepen those lessons, guided by their peers and teachers.

Delivery of the basic content online gives students the opportunity to set the pace of their learning, allowing them to slow down or repeat sections of content they don’t understand, and skip material they already understand. Students decide what to watch and when, which affords them the flexibility to identify the best times for them to absorb and learn new material.

Classroom time is no longer used to listen to didactic lecture. Instead, while in class, students work in groups or individually with teacher assistance on tasks that apply the core knowledge.  In applying what they've learned, they learn the material better.

Here's a quick, graphic explanation of flipped classrooms and their history from Knewton.

 A flipped classroom application at  Stanford Med School

Several video screens showing scenes from the Simulation Center

Dr. Ankeet Udani of the anesthesia department is developing a program called ImPRINT that uses this style of teaching.  It will ready new physicians in anesthesia to develop skills that may not be easily taught in the traditional classroom setting. Topics range from an acute medical crisis, such as heart attack, to physician wellness, with relaxation and meditation.

“ImPRINT is definitely one of the highlights of my intern experience …The format of our learning uniquely ‘flips the classroom.’ We watch an 18-minute online lecture at our own convenience, so that when we convene, we jump right into interactive and experiential learning activities that are focused on developing skills to make us better interns," saidLouise Wen, a categorical intern at Stanford.  "So far, these exercises have included crisis scenarios in the high-fidelity simulator, faculty-led small group discussions on topics such as the physiology of CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation]…”

I see a lot of opportunity in this teaching method being applied across the board in all fields of higher education as programs recognize the need to engage their trainees and use their limited hours of training in the most effective way possible.

Have you used a flipped classroom in medical or other education?  Have a question about them?  Please add a comment below.

See Also

School of Medicine Instructional Design

Blended Courses in the Gallery of Teaching and Learning

Resources from the Vice Provost for Online Learning