Flipped Classroom Case Learning vs Traditional Lecture-Based Learning in Medical School Ophthalmology Education: A Randomized Trial

Chan PP, Lee VWY, Yam JC, Brelén ME, Chu WK, Wan KH, Chen LJ, Tham CC, Pang CP
Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges
Apr 2023

Purpose: To address the problem of teaching noncore specialties, for which there is often limited teaching time and low student engagement, a flipped classroom case learning (FCCL) module was designed and implemented in a compulsory 5-day ophthalmology rotation for undergraduate medical students. The module consisted of a flipped classroom, online gamified clinical cases, and case-based learning.

Method: Final-year medical students in a 5-day ophthalmology rotation were randomized to the FCCL or a traditional lecture-based (TLB) module. The outcomes of subjective assessments (student-rated anonymous Likert scale questionnaire, scale 1 to 5, and course and teaching evaluation, scale 1 to 6) and objective assessments (end-of-rotation and post-MBChB multiple-choice questions, scale 0 to 60) were compared between the 2 groups.

Results: Between May 2021 and June 2022, 216 students (108 in each group) completed the study. Compared to the TLB students, the students in the FCCL group rated various aspects of the course statistically significantly higher, including feeling more enthusiastic and engaged by the course and more encouraged to ask questions and participate in discussions (all P < .001). They also gave higher ratings for the instructional methods, course assignments, course outcomes, and course workload ( P < .001). They gave higher course and teaching evaluation scores to the tutors (5.7 ± 0.6 vs 5.0 ± 1.0, P < .001). The FCCL group scored higher than the TLB group on the end-of-rotation multiple-choice questions (53.6 ± 3.1 vs 51.8 ± 2.8, P < .001). When 32 FCCL students and 36 TLB students were reassessed approximately 20 weeks after the rotation, the FCCL group scored higher (40.3 ± 9.1) than the TLB group (34.3 ± 10.9, P = 0.018).

Conclusions: Applying the FCCL module in ophthalmology teaching enhanced medical students' satisfaction, examination performance, and knowledge retention. A similar model may be suitable for other specialties.