The flipped classroom at BSMS – What happened at a recent workshop

Dr Julia Montgomery
Director of Assessment & Feedback and Senior Lecturer in Medical Education

We recently ran a one-day workshop, titled “Do you want to flip?”, for BSMS teachers interested in learning more about this approach and have a go at developing pre-lecture material. Here is a quick report back on how it went.

What is the flipped classroom?

The ‘flipped classroom’ approach to teaching is relatively new, emerging as a term around 2010.

The first principle is that students are given pre-lecture work to do that covers the basic/fundamentals of the subject so that the time within the actual lecture with the lecturer can be used to explore the subject in greater depth and thus moving the student from a receiver of facts to the higher stages of Bloom’s taxonomy of learning, the application of knowledge and critical thinking.

The second principle is the use of blended learning both before and during the lecture time. Blended learning involves the use of both on line digital media (videos, podcasts, animations, quizzes, narrated slides) as well as face-to face-teaching.

A recent systemic review (Medical Education 2017: 51: 585-597) on the effectiveness of flipped classroom in medical education featured 46 articles published since 2012 and indicated that the jury is still out:

  • Students’ enjoyment and attitude to flipped classroom is positive. The students reported greater task value, increased enjoyment and decreased boredom compared to traditional classroom teaching.
  • However, the research evidence for flipped classroom over traditional teaching for knowledge and skills is limited – only 4 of the 46 studies looked at this aspect but these studies showed it was at least as successful as traditional teaching.

If you are interested in learning more about this approach, there is a paper written by Helen Morgan (The Clinical Teacher 2015; 12: 155–160) and a video ( which shows a very practical approach to the flipped classroom with medical students.

A recent BSMS workshop to try out ‘flipped classroom’

We recently ran a one-day workshop, titled “Do you want to flip?”, for BSMS teachers interested in learning more about this approach and have a go at developing pre-lecture material.

The morning included:

  • Dr Sangeetha Sornalingham, GP Teaching Fellow, presented the principles of flipped classroom and the research evidence. She has been using the method in her GP teaching with Year 4 students.
  • Prof Robin Banerjee, School of Psychology at Sussex University, gave his experience of using the approach in his own teaching. As well as creating material for students before the lecture, he also asks the students to post on an online forum 100 words of reflection on the lecture, what they took from the lecture, what was still difficult to understand and any other thoughts. He then summaries these reflections and writes a blog back to all the students to clarify any concerns or upload further information over the following week.
  • I, along with Tim Vincent and Nick Feather, Learning Technology Advisers, presented some of the digital tools and technologies available to help create pre-class and in-class learning materials to aid students’ application of knowledge e.g. quizzes, video, interactive tools. The take home message is that the material uploaded before the lecture should be short possibly only 5-7 minutes in length and varied e.g. a video of a few slides, an animation, a single page text document.

The afternoon:

Feedback from the participants (click for larger version)

After lunch, the participants reviewed one of their own existing teaching presentations and had a go at restructuring it so that didactic information delivery could be moved to pre-class learning exercises and then looked at inserting learning tools in their lectures to encourage applicable of knowledge, such as a quiz or a video.

Feedback from the session was very positive – examples shown in the speech bubbles!

Using resources already out there

If you are thinking of creating digital material to upload before your lecture, firstly look and see what is out there on the web already! I have used explanatory videos of Khan Academy to support my lectures in Module 203. Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organisation created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan with a goal of creating an accessible place for people to be educated. The organisation produces short explanatory videos consisting of a person explaining something while drawing or annotating their words on a black screen with a digital pen. It is worth checking out their website:

There is some feedback that students prefer cartoon-like animations rather than the ‘chalk-on-blackboard’ style. Have a look at this video on YouTube – Anatomy & physiology of the circulatory system – and see what you think. I admit that I really like this cartoon approach, with a lot of visuals.

If you would like some support for producing online materials for a flipped classroom, contact Tim Vincent or CJ Taylor. Have a go!

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