“What’s Biochem got to do with it?” Student evaluation of context-based undergraduate biochemistry for health science (CUBHS) instruction


  • Katherine Fernandez Monash University
  • Tina Overton Monash University
  • Christopher Thompson Monash University
  • Nirma Samarawickrema Monash University


context-based instruction, biochemistry, foundational-clinical gap, collaborative learning, CUBHS


The ongoing debate on the relevance of biochemistry to the health sciences stems from a lack of emphasis on clinical contexts (Gwee, Samarasekera and Chay-Hoon, 2010). This has led to a foundational-clinical gap and negative perceptions of this foundational subject. The Context based Undergraduate Biochemistry for Health Science or CUBHS learning resources were developed to address the aforementioned gap. Forty undergraduate students of pharmacy, psychology and nursing participated in separate CUBHS workshops. For each workshop, students were introduced to a biomolecule through a clinical scenario, provided collaborative learning opportunities to link biochemistry and clinical knowledge and given time to apply biochemistry knowledge in patient care through role-plays. The resources were evaluated through surveys and interviews. Survey data revealed that 90% of students agreed that CUBHS provided the link between biochemistry knowledge (BK) and a clinical scenario (CS). Moreover, 86% of the students agreed that CUHBS facilitated a deeper understanding of biomolecules and their clinical implications and 93% of the students agreed that CUHBS provided opportunities to integrate BK in a CS. Collaborative activities like diagram-making and the patient-to-health-professional role play were described as “very enjoyable” and “very useful” in understanding the link between BK and CS. In conclusion, the aim to link foundational knowledge and clinical application through CUBHS was achieved.

Author Biographies

Katherine Fernandez, Monash University

PhD student

Tina Overton, Monash University

Professor School of Chemistry

Christopher Thompson, Monash University

A/Professor School of Chemistry

Nirma Samarawickrema, Monash University

Senior lecturer Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology