By Jeff Kraakevik, M.D.

On Friday in the Neuroscience and Behavior Course for second-year medical students, we tried something that we haven’t done before. It’s a pretty interesting teaching model called the “flipped classroom.” Essentially, it takes the traditional method of hearing new content in the day and applying it at night with individual study, and flips that order around.

The outcome is that students learn the material at home the night before the teaching session. Class time is not used for lecture content delivery, but for solidifying that knowledge through applying it.

Here’s what we did. Dr. Claudio Mello, my co-course director, recorded the same lectures he gave last year about the somatosensory system onto his laptop. OHSU provided him with software to record his voice along with the slides on his PowerPoint. He broke the 80-minute lecture up into four 15 to 30-minute segments. The videos were posted on the course website, and the students watched them when it was convenient for them.

The morning of the session, we quizzed students over the material at the beginning of the morning. The quiz was done using a clicker audience response system, so we were able to see the scores in real time. Then, Dr. Mello and I retaught a few points which the students struggled with on the quiz.

This was followed by a team-based learning session (if you don’t know what that, is here’s video from Duke University explaining it) where we used clinical cases in small groups to apply what they learned about the basic neurophysiology and neuroanatomy of the somatosensory system.

All in all, it went better than I expected. I had several students come up to me after we were done and say they really liked it.

One student liked how there was defined and pre-presented content for the team-based learning session, as that allowed more efficient preparation for the session. Another student told me that it was helpful to pause the lecture, and draw out the pathway and structures. There were some technical glitches, but when I polled the audience before the quiz, no one was unable to view the material.

It shows how technology can be integrated pretty easily into the classroom setting. I know I’m not the first to try this method, but I think there aren’t many of medical schools that have tried this yet. I did want to provide a forum to discuss the “flipped classroom.” Have you tried it or something like it either as a learner or an instructor? How did it go for you? If there are students from OHSU that were in the session, how did you think it went? We’ll keep working on making the model work better, but I’m excited to try it again!


Jeff Kraakevik, M.D., earned his medical degree from the University of Iowa and his fellowship in Movement Disorders from Oregon Health & Science University. He joined the OHSU movement disorders faculty in 2006 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Neurology. Dr. Kraakevik holds the unique distinction of being a former high school teacher. He has followed this trajectory of educator and currently heads up the development of medical student and resident education for the OHSU department of Neurology and VA Medical Center where he holds a joint appointment. Dr. Kraakevik’s research interests include gait and balance problems of Parkinson’s disease as well as research that explores the best teaching practices for medical education.

You can also follow him on Twitter and at his neurology education blog.

4 responses to “Flipped!

  1. This sounds like a fantastic learning technique. Actually, I am surprised it hasn’t been thought of and tried earlier.

  2. I was there and I really liked it! I would like to see more utilization of this teaching method, both throughout the remainder of NSB as well as in my remaining preclinical curriculum.

  3. At University of Wisconsin we tried a similar approach for our epidemiology class. As a student, and later as an instructor, it seemed very useful. We all also appreciated each lecture being recorded with slides and posted to allow for reinforcing the subject matter at a later date.

  4. I love the concept of the flipped classroom. I think the best part of the set up is empowering medical students and putting them in charge of the material for mastery. Higher level of thinking cannot be achieved my lecture alone. I also love the team building idea of students and the educators all helping each other achieve the same level of knowledge. Takes away that negative competition aspect of medical students and shows that by working together, we can all become better doctors.

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