Flipping the Classroom in Residency Didactics Leads to Higher American Board of Surgery in-Training Examination Scores

Andreana Finn, Julia L Nugent, Steven S Qi, Matthew G Robertson, Matthew C. Bobel, Melissa E. Brunsvold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Didactic education in General Surgery (GS) residency typically follows a nationally standardized curriculum; however, instructional format varies by institution. In recent years, GS residents at our institution expressed discontentment with weekly didactics and were not meeting their goals on the American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (ABSITE). We sought to develop improvements in our didactic curriculum to increase resident satisfaction and ABSITE scores of GS junior residents (Jrs). DESIGN: In a quality improvement project, we changed the weekly didactic curriculum format from hour-long lectures in the 2018 to 2019 academic year (AY) to a partially-flipped classroom in the 2019 to 2020 AY, involving a 30-minute faculty-led presentation followed by 30 minutes of resident-led practice questions. The outcomes measured were ABSITE scores taken in 2019 and 2020 and resident opinions via an anonymous survey. SETTING: This study was conducted at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN). PARTICIPANTS: The cohort for this study included all GS Jrs in our GS residency program, including postgraduate year (PGY) 1 nondesignated preliminary, PGY1 to 3 categorical GS residents, and residents in their lab time. Senior residents attended a separate didactics session. RESULTS: After curriculum changes, the ABSITE percentile scores for GS Jrs rose from 52% ± 5% to 66% ± 4% (p = 0.03). No categorical GS Jr scored <30% in 2020, compared to 20% (6/30) of categorical General Surgery residents in 2019. All residents preferred the new format overall and reported greater engagement in and preparation for didactics. CONCLUSIONS: After changing didactic education from hour-long lectures in the 2018 to 2019 AY to a flipped classroom model in the 2019 to 2020 AY including 30 minutes of faculty-led lecture followed by 30 minutes of resident-led practice questions, ABSITE scores and resident satisfaction at the University of Minnesota General Surgery Program improved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-793
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number6
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

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© 2023 Association of Program Directors in Surgery


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