The use of blended learning to teach metabolism

J.O. Macaulay, M.P. Van Damme, K.Z. Walker

Abstract


We have developed a blended program for teaching Biochemistry, in particular metabolism, to undergraduate students undertaking the degrees of Bachelor of Science, Biomedical Science and Nutrition and Dietetics. In these degrees, where graduates develop scientific skills and clinical skills when appropriate, a thorough understanding of biochemistry is essential.

Blended learning approaches aim to bring together face to face and online learning modalities in combinations which will enhance student learning (‘Blended learning’ 2005; Aycock, Garnham and Kaleta 2002; Garnham and Kaleta 2002). Our aim in designing blended biochemistry units was to integrate the various components of the units into single continuous entities with the components being linked and interdependent. We therefore developed an integrated blend (Clark 2003) delivered both online (WebCT-Vista) and offline (face to face lectures and tutorials, distributable print media, CDs). A range of interactive multimedia learning modalities and face to face learning exposures are thus used to promote interactive, active, student-centred learning and enhance students’ problemsolving skills. Blended learning was introduced to:
1. cater for a range of learning styles and engage students at a higher level of learning;
2. integrate in-class and out-of-class learning;
3. improve students’ ability to master and integrate biochemical concepts which are fundamental to understanding metabolism;
4. allow students to work at their own time and pace using online learning; and
5. encourage students to assess their knowledge and understanding through electronic quizzes and to provide prompt and direct feedback on their performance.

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