Health sciences PhD student Lindsay Galway (left)


Health sciences student wins CPHA award for classroom innovation

July 10, 2015

A research project examining the efficacy of “flipped classrooms” has earned health sciences PhD student Lindsay Galway the prestigious Dr. John Hastings Student Award from the Canadian Public Health Association.

“The win was a great and unexpected honor for me,” she says. The award recognizes the best abstract or poster at the CPHA Annual Conference.

In flipped classrooms, students learn course content online and then spend class time on problem solving and more active, value-added and collaborative learning.

The ubiquity of internet access and computers and rapidly improving learning management tools has led to a surge in interest in the flipped classroom, giving students and instructors new opportunities to rethink how we learn and teach.

Despite this, Galway says little is known about how flipped classrooms would work at the university level. With a grant from the SFU Teaching and Learning Centre and in collaboration with professor Tim Takaro, educational consultant Barb Berry and the course’s teaching assistant Jordan Brubacher, Galway set out to discover more.

She evaluated the model’s application in an environmental and occupational health course in the Faculty of Health Sciencesmaster’s of public health program.

Galway assessed learning outcomes and student perceptions, and documented the process and experience in designing and implementing a flipped classroom.

Before attending class, students watched short video podcast lectures online. In class, they participated in different active learning activities, such as looking at case studies, engaging in pathway mapping and debates, solving problem sets and brainstorming ideas in groups.

“We found in the study that students responded positively to the flipped classroom model, with positive impacts on learning,” she says.

Most students found it useful to access the video podcasts for final exam studying and said the in-class active learning activities enriched their learning.

“These results say the model is promising and should be considered further,” Galway says. “In an era of rising education costs and declining public funding for higher education, innovative approaches that may enhance learning outcomes while taking advantage of emerging technologies are called for.”