Flipping the Classroom in Graduate Medical Education: A Systematic Review

J Grad Med Educ. 2019 Feb;11(1):18-29. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-18-00350.2.


Background: Flipped classroom (FC) instruction has become increasingly common in graduate medical education (GME).

Objective: The purpose of this study was to profile the use of FC in the GME setting and assess the current status of research quality.

Methods: We conducted a systematic literature search of major health and social science databases from July 2017 to July 2018. Articles were screened to ensure they described use of the FC method in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited residency program and included research outcomes. Resulting articles were analyzed, described, and evaluated for research quality using the Kirkpatrick framework and the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument (MERSQI).

Results: Twenty-two articles were identified, all of which were recently published. Five were only indirectly related to FC methods. Most studies reported Kirkpatrick-level outcomes. Studies involving resident learner opinions were generally positive. Pre-posttest studies resulted in large positive improvements in knowledge or skills attainment. Control group study results ranged from large positive (1.56) to negative effects (-0.51). Average MERSQI scores of 12.1 (range, 8.5-15.5) were comparable to GME research norms.

Conclusions: Varying methods for implementing and studying the FC in GME has led to variable results. While residents expressed a positive attitude toward FC learning, shortcomings were reported. Approximately half of the studies comparing the flipped to the traditional classroom reported better achievement under the FC design. As indicated by the MERSQI score, studies captured by this review, on average, were as rigorous as typical research on residency education.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods*