Using a flipped classroom and the perspective of families to teach medical students about children with disabilities and special education

Mary E. Sheppard, Ed.D., Nancy Vitalone-Raccaro, Ph.D , Jacqueline M. Kaari, D.O., F.A.C.O.P., F.A.A.P., Taiwo T. Ajumobi, M.S.

Disability and Health JournalVol. 10Issue 4p552–558




The need to teach medical students to care for children with disabilities, work effectively with these patients’ families, and collaborate with schools has been well established. Yet, what is not clear is the exact nature of the content to be taught and how medical schools develop the systems and enabling structures required to ensure medical education responds to the needs of children with disabilities and their families.


The aim of this study was to develop and assess the efficacy of an educational intervention designed to introduce the topics of special education law and practices and working with parents of children with disabilities into an undergraduate medical education pediatrics course.


A new curricular element based upon the flipped classroom that included an on-line module followed by

participation in a panel discussion comprised of parents of children with disabilities, and concluding with an on-line discussion was implemented. Medical students completed a pre- and post-assessment that evaluated their knowledge of special education law and practices.


Students demonstrated increased understanding of special education laws and practices. Qualitative findings showed that students recognized the importance and value of learning the content to support their patients and their patients’ families.


Based upon study findings, the flipped classroom method improved student knowledge of the topic and students reported they valued the content. This addition to the undergraduate medical curriculum provided students with an effective introductory overview and demonstrated one viable option for incorporating necessary topics into the undergraduate medical curriculum.