‘Flipped’ science class helps women, those with lower GPA, study shows

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New Haven, Conn.—Physical chemistry students given most course content outside of the classroom scored 12% higher on exams than counterparts in more traditional classes where students listened to lectures, a newstudy by researchers at the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (U-Mass) shows.

Female students and those with lower grade-point averages benefitted most from the “flipped classroom” approach, in which class time is dedicated to interactive learning projects, according to the study appearing online September 22 in the journal CBE-Life Sciences Education.

“Everyone benefitted from the flipped classroom, but these groups were impacted the most,’’ said Mark Graham, evaluation director at the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning Center for Scientific Teaching and co-author of the study.

Other studies have shown benefits from the flipped classroom approach to learning and the new study attempted to determine the reasons why. Professor David Gross of UMass collected five years worth of performance data on science majors taking his upper-level physical chemistry course for biochemistry majors. For the first three years, Gross taught the class in a traditional manner with much of the content delivered during lectures. He then re-engineered the class so most content usually delivered in lectures was given to students before class. Class time was then dedicated to more interactive projects.

“The structure of the flipped environment may provide students impetus for less crammed, more uniform interaction with the course material throughout the semester,” the authors determined.