Abstract

Although the flipped classroom approach has been theorised to encourage active learning, recorded lectures were used as flipped learning activities in the majority of the flipped learning studies, which many still consider to be passive knowledge input. To further promote active learning, the first four modules in a pathology course at University of Otago Wellington were flipped and delivered to fourth year medical students with redesigned active learning activities based on constructive theory of learning. The innovative active learning tasks were delivered via “kuraCloud” (an online-learning platform) and included short video clips, labeling exercises, written questions with immediate feedback, multiple-choice questions with explanatory text and links provided for further information. Students were required to complete all the activities prior to a face-to-face tutorial. A mixed methods design was used in which student engagement was assessed using both survey instruments and focus groups. Results showed that students did not engage with the new flipped learning activities designed to improve active learning, they preferred the passive learning approach with exam- or clinical practice- based core knowledge summarized and delivered to them directly. Three themes emerged: 1. Students considered the time invested in the active learning activities was inefficient. 2. The flipped course challenged students’ sense of predictability. 3. The knowledge construction process was valued as application rather than learning. This might be attributed to time-poor medical students judging the value of the learning task based on the relevance to their immediate learning goal: pass the exam, the new flipped learning activities imposing a heavy cognitive load that impairs the knowledge construction process and the less predictable structure of the flipped learning environment compared to the familiar traditional lectures. 

Keywords:        Passive Learning; Active Learning; the Flipped Classroom; Course Structure; Cognitive Load

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