ABSTRACT: The flipped classroom stimulates greater learning and is a modern 21st century approach to teaching today’s undergraduates
Many classrooms in higher education still rely on a transformative approach to teaching where students attend lectures and earn course grades through examination. In the modern age, traditional lectures are argued by some as obsolete and do not address the learning needs of today’s students. An emerging pedagogical approach is the concept of the flipped classroom. The flipped classroom can simply be described as students viewing asynchronous video lectures on their own and then engaging in active learning during scheduled class times. In this study, we examined the flipped classroom teaching environment on student learning gains in an Introduction to Equine Science course. Students (n = 130) were asked to view 7.5 h of recorded lectures divided into 8 learning modules, take online quizzes to enforce lecture viewing, take 3 in-class exams, and prepare to participate in active learning during scheduled class times. Active learning approaches included individual activities, paired activities, informal small groups, and large group activities. When compared to students in the traditional lecture format in earlier years, students in the flipped format scored higher on all 3 exams (P < 0.05), with both formats taught by the same instructor. Analysis of ACT scores demonstrated no intellectual capacity differences between the student populations. To evaluate any gains in critical thinking, flipped format students were asked to take the Cornell Critical Thinking Exam (version X). Scores improved from the pretest (50.8 ± 0.57) to the posttest (54.4 ± 0.58; P < 0.01). In the flipped course, no correlations were found with student performance and interactions with online content. Students were asked in class to evaluate their experiences based on a 5-point Likert scale: 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The flipped classroom was ranked as an enjoyable learning experience with a mean of 4.4 ± 0.10, while students responded positively to other pointed questions. In formal course evaluations, flipped format students ranked the following higher (P < 0.05): instructor availability to assist students; encouragement of independent, creative, and critical thinking; and amount learned. Overall, the flipped classroom proved to be a positive learning experience for students. As the classroom continues to modernize, pedagogical approaches such as the flipped classroom should be considered for many lecture-style courses taught in the animal sciences.