Educational Technology – Saje Davis-Risen: Flipped Classroom Strategies

Faculty in Focus - Saje Davis-Risen

Flipping the PA Studies Classroom

Due to the compressed block schedule, students in the PA program engage with a high volume of content in a short time-frame, and professors have to help them master it, all while increasing active and authentic learning opportunities. To meet this challenge, Saje has redesigned her courses to use a flipped classroom model. Read on to learn more about Flipped Classroom strategies.

Increasing engagement and improving learning outcomes were two key goals Saje had in mind when she began redesigning a course in the beginning of the PA program that teaches physical exam techniques. The skills students must learn, and the assessments of those skills, were completely hands-on, but the course traditionally had been taught primarily through a lecture format. That model meant much of the already limited face-to-face class time had to be dedicated to delivering content through lectures, leaving students to practice on their own outside class.

Saje's innovation flipped that dynamic. Students now view instructional videos Saje has created to introduce physical exam techniques, and then they try them out a few times on classmates outside of class. This frees up precious class time the next day for students to practice and adjust their techniques with expert guidance and feedback. Though the benefits of the flipped model for this course might seem obvious, it is actually the inverse of how nearly all subjects at the college level, even in skills-based courses, have traditionally been taught.

The Flipped Classroom Model

In a flipped classroom, students engage with instructional content outside of the classroom, often through an online delivery, and then apply concepts from that content in the face-to-face classroom with their classmates and the professor. Flipped learning is technically a kind of blended learning approach where instructional content delivery and learning activities happen in a mix of online and face-to-face environments. Typically, instructional content (like the kind of content usually delivered in a lecture) is made available online and students watch or read the content on their own time outside of the regular class meeting. This frees up valuable in-class time for active activities where students can apply what they’ve learned, often in groups with their classmates, with the guidance and direction of the teacher.

This approach has many benefits, foremost among them being a shift from passive to active learning and increased opportunities for formative assessment and immediate remediation of understanding. Additionally, the relationship dynamics change in a flipped classroom. The teacher becomes a mentor and guide to the student, who becomes the primary agent in charge of acquiring and constructing their own knowledge. Peer-to-peer instruction is also common in flipped classroom models, which studies have shown to increase engagement and improve learning outcomes.