IAMSE Publications Committee Journal Review

Medical Science Educator

Every month, the IAMSE Publications Committee reviews published articles from the archives of Medical Science Educator or of its predecessor JIAMSE. This month’s review is taken from Medical Science Educator volume 25, issue 3.

The implementation of new educational methods is a constantly evolving reality at all levels of the educational spectrum. Recently, the flipped classroom model has become very popular because it is designed to foster higher order thinking and problem solving, as well as cooperative and collaborative learning skills for students. This format has been successful in the undergraduate setting and has been adopted by medical educators because of its promise. However, whether the flipped classroom model is as effective for educating medical students as it is for undergraduates has been shown to be predicated on several factors discussed in a recent study published in the Medical Science Educator, Volume 25, Issue 3 (pages 219-222), by authors C White, M McCollum, E Bradley, P Roy, M Yoon, J Martindale and MK Worden entitled Challenges to Engaging Medical Students in a Flipped Classroom Model. In this study the authors note that the flipped classroom model has not fostered the type of active, learner-centered experience or learner-teacher interactions for medical students that have been reported in other settings. The authors analyzed medical student survey data to define specific reasons to explain why they did not fully embrace the flipped classroom model. The results from their analysis identified three main themes that represent barriers to the successful implementation of the flipped classroom model in medical education. The first theme related to the perceived efficiency of the flipped classroom learning experience compared to learning on an individual basis. Medical students are less likely to embrace the flipped classroom model if they believe that they can more effectively and efficiently acquire knowledge on their own. This is compounded by the fact that in many medical schools attendance is not mandatory and the reality that instructors often do not know each of their learners personally, which is in contrast to undergraduate educational settings. The second major theme related to the importance of standardization of session quality, which has been observed across many small group learning formats. It was found that the quality of preparatory materials plays an important role in encouraging medical students to come to class prepared and that this has a significant impact on the overall quality of the learning experience. Third, the authors found that medical students have high expectations for the content, length and complexity of pre-class assignments, and that materials or expectations that were too simple or too complex negatively affected student engagement. Ultimately, one of the most significant issues affecting implementation of the flipped classroom model in a medical education setting is the fact that the model requires the day-to-day oversight of a dedicated educator or team of educators who can insure the development of consistent, high quality materials that are suited to the level of knowledge and experience of the medical students.

Louis B. Justement, PhD
Director, GBS Immunology Graduate Theme
Associate Director, Medical Scientist Training Program
Professor, Department of Microbiology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Member, Publications Committee