Skip to content

Study shows "exploration first" model is a better way for students to learn

12869-flipped_newsTo boost students' learning, hands-on exercises in class should occur before reading or video assignments are completed. That's according to a new Stanford Graduate School of Education study, which focused specifically on the teaching of neuroscience.

A story yesterday in Stanford Report notes that the paper "buttresses what many educational researchers and cognitive scientists have been asserting for many years: the 'exploration first' model is a better way to learn." More details on the research:

The study involved 28 undergraduate and graduate students as participants, none of whom had studied neuroscience. After being given an initial test, half of the group read about the neuroscience of vision, while the others worked with BrainExplorer, [a tabletop tool that simulates how the human brain processes visual images]. When tested after those respective lessons, the performance of participants who used BrainExplorer increased significantly more – 30 percent – than those who had read the text.

Next the researchers had each of the two groups do the other learning activity: Those who had used BrainExplorer read the text, while those who had read the text used BrainExplorer. All the participants then took another test, and the findings revealed a 25-percent increase in performance when open-ended exploration came before text study rather than after it. (A follow-up study showed identical results for video classes instead of text.)


The research comes out as the idea of a "flipped classroom," in which students first watch videos or read texts and then do projects in the classroom, has been growing in popularity at colleges and graduate schools. The study's conclusion suggests that the current model of the flipped classroom should itself be flipped upside down. The researchers advocate the "flipped flipped classroom," in which videos come after exploration and not before.

The study was recently published in IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies.

Previously: A closer look at using the “flipped classroom” model at the School of Medicine, Combining online learning and the Socratic method to reinvent medical school courses, Using the “flipped classroom” model to re-imagine medical education and Rethinking the “sage on stage” model in medical education
Photo by Transformative Learning Technologies Lab

Popular posts