Student Perceptions of a Flipped Classroom in Physical Therapy Education




Canifax, April J.
Thomas, Brent A.
Papa, Evan


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Purpose In recent years, colleges and universities in the United States have faced considerable scrutiny for their apparent failure to adequately educate students. Studies suggest that a significant portion of students are not learning the critical thinking, written communication, and complex reasoning skills thought to be at the core of higher education.1 A growing body of literature consistently points to the need to rethink what is taking place in the classroom.2-4 To that end, a novel pedagogical approach has been proposed: the flipped classroom. This instructional model uses instructor’s prerecord lectures posted online for students to watch at home. This allows class time to be dedicated to student-centered learning activities, like problem-based learning and inquiry oriented strategies.5-7 Student and instructor satisfaction regarding this model has been reported in nursing, pharmacy, and medical school curricula8-10, however no research exists regarding student perceptions of the model in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum. The purpose of this study was to identify student perceptions of a flipped classroom in physical therapy education. Methods A five-point Likert scale survey was administered to 2nd year DPT students on the first day of the Evidence-Based Practice III course at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC), Fort Worth, Texas. hosted the survey and links were provided to all students attending the class. All participants were provided with electronic informed consent. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at UNTHSC. Results 41 students ages 21-35, representing diverse ethnic and educational backgrounds agreed to participate. Approximately ⅔ of respondents were female. The majority of student responses indicated a positive impression of the flipped-classroom. Means of responses to detailed questions were high (3.83-3.95) covering student perceptions of communication skills, personal initiative in the learning process, and interaction with topics expected in a flipped-classroom. The lowest mean response (3.56) was to the survey item “My overall perception of a flipped-classroom is positive.” Conclusion The results of this seminal survey on the efficacy of the flipped classroom in a DPT curriculum suggest that second year DPT students believe that a flipped classroom can enhance skills at the core of higher education. Paradoxically however, participants in this study rated lower on their overall perception of a flipped classroom. Given an increased need for PT education to evolve as team-based healthcare becomes more prevalent,4 shifting to a flipped classroom model could serve to enhance future student’s abilities to thrive in a more collaborative work environment.