ABSTRACT: A systematic review of the effectiveness of flipped classrooms in medical education
There are inconsistent claims made about the effectiveness of the flipped classroom (FC) in medical education; however, the quality of the empirical evidence used to back up these claims is not evident. The aims of this review are to examine the scope and quality of studies on the FC teaching approach in medical education and to assess the effects of FCs on medical learning.
A literature search was conducted using the major electronic databases in 2016. Peer-reviewed papers were screened and reviewed according to explicit inclusion criteria. The scope and quality of all resultant studies were evaluated. Studies identified as using controlled designs were further synthesised to assess the effects of FCs on learning.
A total of 118 articles were obtained. Full texts of 82 articles were reviewed. Nine of the included 46 articles used a controlled design when examining the effects of the FC. There were generally positive perceptions of the FC approach. However, the effects of FCs on changes in knowledge and skills were less conclusive as the effect sizes ranged from d = -0.27 to 1.21, with a median of 0.08. The varying direction and magnitude of the effect sizes, together with their 95% confidence interval, which contained zero, suggested the lack of strong evidence for the effectiveness of FCs in promoting knowledge acquisition above and beyond the traditional learning methods.
There has been a recent increase of research rigor and variety in measures of effectiveness in studies on the FC in medical education. The FC is a promising teaching approach to increase learners’ motivation and engagement. More solid evidence on its effect on changes in knowledge and skills are warranted. Further studies should also examine the long-term effects of FCs with regard to knowledge retention and transfer of knowledge to professional practice and patient care.