The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a traditional lecture-based curriculum versus a modified "flipped classroom" curriculum of cardiovascular, respiratory, and renal physiology delivered to first-year graduate students. Students in both courses were provided the same notes and recorded lectures. Students in the modified flipped classroom were required to watch the prerecorded lectures before class and then attend class, where they received a quiz or homework covering material in each lecture (valued at 25% of the final grade) followed by a question and answer/problem-solving period. In the traditional curriculum, attending lectures was optional and there were no quizzes. Evaluation of effectiveness and student performance was achieved by having students in both courses take the same multiple-choice exams. Within a comparable group of graduate students, participants in the flipped course scored significantly higher (P ≤ 0.05) on the cardiovascular, respiratory, and weighted cumulative sections by an average of >12 percentage points. Exam averages for students in the flipped course also tended to be higher on the renal section by ∼11 percentage points (P = 0.06). Based on our experience and responses obtained in blinded student surveys, we propose that the use of homework and in-class quizzes were critical motivating factors that likely contributed to the increase in student exam performance. Taken together, our findings support that the flipped classroom model is a highly effective means in which to disseminate key physiological concepts to graduate students.
Keywords: didactic lectures; flipped classroom; student performance.