Active learning is known to be a key component of student engagement and content mastery. Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach that moves passive, initial instruction out of the classroom (usually as recorded videos) and reserves class time for active-learning exercises that fortify learning. Reports have demonstrated the success of flipped learning, but it is unclear whether that success is due to students watching videos at home (i.e., the “flipped” structure of the flipped classroom) or to the active learning that takes place in class. I sought to answer that question by comparing two sections of sophomore-level college genetics. One section was flipped and the other taught traditionally, but with extensive active learning included as homework. Student satisfaction, performance on quizzes and exams, and overall achievement of course learning goals were compared. Interestingly, after taking into account the diversity of academic strength in both sections, there was no difference between the sections for any of the measured parameters. Although flipped learning may offer no additional benefit over other forms of active learning, it is far easier and more efficient to embed and integrate active learning into a flipped classroom.

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