Study Measures Benefits of a ‘Flipped’ Pharmacy Course

A study comparing traditional and “flipped” versions of a pharmacy-school course at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that students much preferred the flipped course and got better grades on the final examination. The flipped course replaced in-class lectures with videos that the students watched before they came to class to take part in a series of activities—assessments, presentations, discussions, quizzes, and “microlectures.”

The study is to be published in February in Academic Medicine, the journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, but it is available online now (it can be downloaded using the “Article as PDF” tool). It reports on the 2011 and 2012 versions of a first-year course for graduate students, “Basic Pharmaceutics II.”

In 2011 the course relied on 75-minute lectures two days a week—a total of 29 hours’ worth—plus occasional quizzes. In 2012 instructors “offloaded all in-class lectures to self-paced online videos”—averaging around 35 minutes each and totaling under 15 hours—that students could pause and review as necessary. Class sessions were “devoted to student-centered learning exercises designed to assess their knowledge, promote critical thinking, and stimulate discussion.”

Following the 2012 course, only about 15 percent of the 162 students said they would have preferred a traditional lecture-style classroom experience. Others wrote comments such as “It was different, but I enjoyed coming to class more and I also feel that I will retain the information for longer. It helped make learning ‘fun’ again and not just endless hours of lectures and PowerPoints.”

The study’s authors said that, on the final exam, scores for the flipped class were five points higher on a 200-point scale than scores for the traditional version had been the year before.

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