Outcomes of Flipped Classroom Instruction in an Entry-Level Physical Therapy Course

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Background and Purpose.Instead of relying exclusively on traditional lecture classes, instruction known as “flipped classrooms” provides students a more interactive learning environment. In a flipped classroom, students are required to listen to prepared prerecorded course content before they come to class. Rather than homework following a lecture, students complete assignments in the classroom on concepts specifically drawn from the lecture. Flipped classrooms are gaining more popularity; however, quantitative studies on their ability to improve learning are lacking.Case Description.This is a retrospective review over 3 consecutive years that describe outcomes of three teaching methods within one unit of an entry-level physical therapy course. Examination scores from a traditional lecture (TRAD) classroom (n = 44), a partially flipped (pFLIP) (n = 49), and a fully integrated flipped (full FLIP) classroom (n = 50) were compared.Outcomes.Students receiving instruction in a full FLIP classroom demonstrated the greatest improvements from examination 1 to examination 2. The pFLIP cohort demonstrated statistically significant lower scores compared to full FLIP cohort on examination 2.Discussion and Conclusion.The TRAD class received in-class lectures with homework, whereas the pFLIP cohort received in-class question and discussion of content, while the full FLIP cohort received intentional in-class work. A full FLIP classroom requires active participation by students, and in doing so, it simultaneously provides an enhanced opportunity to apply new content to contextualize new information with prior knowledge to solve problems. This opportunity to apply content along with the availability of the instructor to provide feedback in real time may have led to greater understanding of the course material.

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