Could the 'flipped classroom' approach work for radiology education?

The “flipped classroom” learning methodology—where education is achieved through self-paced, independent student learning before live didactic instruction—proved to be a positive experience for fourth-year medical students at the University of California Riverside School of Medicine, according to new research published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

“This contrasts with the traditional model in which ‘first exposure’ occurs via lecture in class, with students assimilating knowledge through homework,” wrote lead author Nelly Tan, MD, University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, and colleagues. “Students have largely expressed satisfaction in flipped classroom learning and prefer this method to lecture-based instruction, likely because the interactive format of a flipped classroom encourages active student participation while engaging students in higher levels of learning.”

To measure the efficacy of first exposure before class in a flipped classroom learning model in radiology, the researchers examined 50 fourth-year medical students who enrolled in a newly introduced 4-week radiology clerkship. The clerkship was meant to introduce core concepts in radiology and to understand the role of radiology through the use of imaging, anatomy and technical aspects, in accordance with national curriculum guidelines.

Students were assigned interactive online cases, had self-learning modules, attended online live webinars, and were tested with weekly quizzes and final examinations on core radiology topics. Additionally, to assess the students’ retention of the material, a 109-question Alliance of Medical Student Educators in Radiology (AMSER) exam was administered.

The students’ attitudes regarding the clerkship were gathered via a Likert scale survey.

The researchers found an increase of 28 percent in the average pre- and post-lecture quiz scores and a 32 percent increase in pre- and post-AMSER exam scores. There was a 1.9 out of 5 increase in the students’ subjective assessment of their knowledge pre- and post-lecture.

On the one-to-five Likert scale, students reported a 3.9 for subjectively feeling well-prepared in radiology for starting internship or residency. They also reported a 4.3 for the overall experience with the clerkship.

“The flipped classroom is gaining traction in medical education and had proven to be a promising educational approach in designing a clerkship curriculum,” Tan and colleagues wrote. “Positive clerkship experiences and a significant increase in student knowledge indicate that this online clerkship incorporates a user-friendly design that effectively delivers core radiology education in a highly efficient manner.”