BMC Medical Education;19, Article number: 291 (2019)
BMC (part of Springer Nature)
Background: The purpose of the study was to describe the design, implementation and evaluation of a flipped classroom teaching approach in physiotherapy education. The flipped classroom is a blended learning approach in which students receive digital lectures as homework, while active learning activities are used in the classroom. Flipped classroom teaching enables a learning environment that aims to develop higher-order cognitive skills. Methods: The study design was a historically controlled, prospective, cohort study. An eight week theoretical course on musculoskeletal disorders was redesigned, moving from a conventional approach to a flipped classroom model. Pre-class learning material consisted of about 12 h of video lectures and other digital learning resources that were split up over the duration of the course. In-class activities consisted of seven full-day seminars where students worked in groups in order to solve problem-based assignments. The assignments were designed to reflect authentic clinical problems and required critical thinking and reasoning. Outcomes were measured with course-grades and compared with historical controls of conventional teaching, using descriptive statistics. Self-perceived learning outcomes and students’ experiences were also collected in a survey. Results: Fifty-one students passed the course exam, two failed and one did not attend (n = 54). The share of students with Excellent, Very good and Good (ABC) performances increased by more than 10% relative to any previous year. In addition, Satisfactory, Sufficient and Failed performances (DEF) decreased by more than 10%. Almost two thirds of the students preferred the flipped classroom approach as compared with conventional teaching. Interaction with peers and educators, and flexibility, were the most positive factors that were reported by students. Long seminars, time-constraints and low motivation with respect to preparation and educators’ roles were the most common complaints. Conclusions: A flipped classroom approach in physiotherapy education resulted in improved student performances in this professional programme, when compared with conventional teaching. Students responded positively to the collaborative learning environment, especially with respect to the associated autonomy and flexibility. There were indicators that all groups did not work optimally and that accountability to other group members did not always ensure pre-classroom preparations.
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