It’s a problem every teacher has to tackle: how to get students to do the reading and prepare for class, and it’s one that makes a big difference. Students coming to class unprepared means more time spent explaining and less time spent guiding and practicing. This kind of inefficiency can have a negative impact on any class, but in Katie Bell’s Pain Management course, the stakes are especially high. When her dental hygiene students come into the lab, they’re not doing hypothetical thought experiments or digital simulations. They’re practicing with real needles on real people–their peers. Obviously, these students need to be as prepared as possible when they come in the door, so Katie uses a flipped delivery of course content and innovative quizzing conditions to make sure that they are.
Flipped learning strategies are useful for solving many classroom challenges, (see Saje Davis-Risen’s Faculty Teaching Profile to learn how she applies it in PA courses). By moving instructional content students can encounter on their own to outside the classroom, instructors free up face-to-face time for students to engage in more active learning experiences like application and extension activities. In Katie’s Pain Management course, using flipped strategies also adds a layer of accountability. To support this, Kaite records short instructional videos demonstrating techniques (like giving injections), then posts them in Moodle. Recording the demonstrations as opposed to doing them live offers the additional benefits of ensuring every student has a good view of the procedure so they know exactly what to do and where and how to do it.
To be sure students watch the videos and have a good understanding of what is covered, Katie also incorporates Moodle quizzes. Pairing instructional videos with low-stakes quizzes is a common practice in flipped instruction, but Katie takes this in a unique direction. To reinforce what’s at stake, especially in the “stab lab” when students will be giving and receiving multiple injections, Katie asks students to sit beside the person who will be their partner while they take the quiz. If a student struggles with the quiz or asks questions that were covered in the homework, their partner will know they haven’t prepared, and nobody wants to be on the receiving end of that needle!
At the end of the day, flipped instruction strategies like the ones Katie uses are all about supporting maximum student preparation in order to allow for maximum guided practice and instructor feedback. The more a student can practice a skill, especially a complex one like delivering anesthetic injections, the less likely that student is to injure a lab partner or a future patient. And I think we can all appreciate that!