Flipped classroom improves student learning in health professions education: A meta-analysis

Khe Foon HEW, Chung Kwan LO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

560 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The use of flipped classroom approach has become increasingly popular in health professions education. However, no meta-analysis has been published that specifically examines the effect of flipped classroom versus traditional classroom on student learning. This study examined the findings of comparative articles through a meta-analysis in order to summarize the overall effects of teaching with the flipped classroom approach. We focused specifically on a set of flipped classroom studies in which pre-recorded videos were provided before face-to-face class meetings. These comparative articles focused on health care professionals including medical students, residents, doctors, nurses, or learners in other health care professions and disciplines (e.g., dental, pharmacy, environmental or occupational health).
Method: Using predefined study eligibility criteria, seven electronic databases were searched in mid-April 2017 for relevant articles. Methodological quality was graded using the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument (MERSQI). Effect sizes, heterogeneity estimates, analysis of possible moderators, and publication bias were computed using the COMPREHENSIVE META-ANALYSIS software.
Results: A meta-analysis of 28 eligible comparative studies (between-subject design) showed an overall significant effect in favor of flipped classrooms over traditional classrooms for health professions education (standardized mean difference, SMD = 0.33, 95% confidence interval, CI = 0.21–0.46, p < 0.001), with no evidence of publication bias. In addition, the flipped classroom approach was more effective when instructors used quizzes at the start of each in-class session. More respondents reported they preferred flipped to traditional classrooms.
Conclusions: Current evidence suggests that the flipped classroom approach in health professions education yields a significant improvement in student learning compared with traditional teaching methods. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalBMC Medical Education
Early online date15 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Hew, K. F., & Lo, C. K. (2018). Flipped classroom improves student learning in health professions education: A meta-analysis. BMC Medical Education, 18. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-018-1144-z


  • Flipped classroom
  • Flipped learning
  • Health professions education
  • Meta-analysis


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