Blended learning as an effective pedagogical paradigm for biomedical science

  • Perry Hartfield School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Keywords: blended learning, biomedical science, biochemistry, laboratory skills, asynchronous learning, synchronous learning, constructive alignment, authentic assessment, engagement, feedback.


Blended learning combines face-to-face class based and online teaching and learning delivery in order to increase flexibility in how, when, and where students study and learn. The development, integration, and promotion of blended learning in frameworks of curriculum design can optimize the opportunities afforded by information and communication technologies and, concomitantly, accommodate a broad range of student learning styles. This study critically reviews the potential benefits of blended learning as a progressive educative paradigm for the teaching of biomedical science and evaluates the opportunities that blended learning offers for the delivery of accessible, flexible and sustainable teaching and learning experiences. A central tenet of biomedical science education at the tertiary level is the development of comprehensive hands-on practical competencies and technical skills (many of which require laboratory-based learning environments), and it is advanced that a blended learning model, which combines face-to-face synchronous teaching and learning activities with asynchronous online teaching and learning activities, effectively creates an authentic, enriching, and student-centred learning environment for biomedical science. Lastly, a blending learning design for introductory biochemistry will be described as an effective example of integrating face-to-face and online teaching, learning and assessment activities within the teaching domain of biomedical science.


DOI: 10.18870/hlrc.v3i4.169


Aguiar, C., Carvalho, A. A., & Carvalho, C. J. (2009). Use of short podcasts to reinforce learning outcomes in biology. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 37(5), 287-289.

Bergtrom, G. (2009). On offering a blended cell biology course. Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology 5(1), 15-21.

Bligh, D. A. (2000). What’s the use of lectures? San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

de Fátima Wardenski, R., de Espindola, M. B., Struchiner, M., & Giannella, T. R. (2012). Blended learning in biochemistry education: Analysis of medical students' perceptions. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 40(4), 222-228.

Garrison, D. R., & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 7(2), 95-105.

Graham, C. R. (2006). Blended learning systems: Definition, current trends, and future directions. In C. J. Bonk & C. R. Graham (Eds.), The handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs (pp. 3-21). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

Grando, D. (2010). Digital wet laboratories: Blended learning to improve student learning. Microbiology Australia, 31(1), 18-20.

Hart, J. (2008, September 22). Understanding today’s learners. Learning Solutions e-Magazine. Retrieved from

Hartfield, P. J. (2009). Reinforcing student learning experiences in biochemistry through podcasts and mobile learning. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of Teaching and Learning, INTI International University, Malaysia.

Hartfield, P. J. (2011). The power of educational podcasting: Using short-format podcasts to reinforce tertiary student learning experiences in science. In P. B. Hudson, V. Chandra, D. King, & Lee, K. -T (Eds.), Proceedings of the STEM in Education Conference 2010 (pp. 1-8). Brisbane, Qld.: Queensland University of Technology. Retrieved from

Herrington, A., & Herrington, J. (2006). Chapter 1: What is an authentic learning environment? In T. Herrington & J. Herrington (Eds.), Authentic learning environments in higher education (pp. 1-13). Hershey, PA: IGI.

Macaulay, J. O., Van Damme, M.-P., & Walker, K. Z. (2009). The use of contextual learning to teach biochemistry to dietetic students. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 37(3), 137-143.

Pereira, J. P., Pleguezuelos, E., Meri, A., Molina-Ros, A., Molina-Tomas, M. C., & Masdeu, C. (2007). Effectiveness of using blended learning strategies for teaching and learning human anatomy. Medical Education 41(2), 189-195.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Retrieved from

Varghese, J., Faith, M., & Jacob, M. (2012). Impact of e-resources on learning of biochemistry: First-year medical students’ perceptions. BMC Medical Education, 12(21), 1-9.

White, S., & Sykes, A. (2012). Evaluation of a blended learning approach used in an anatomy and physiology module for pre-registration healthcare students. In J. Valerdi, B. Kramer, & S. White (Eds.), Proceedings of The Fourth International Conference on Mobile, Hybrid and On-line Learning (eLmL 2012) (pp. 1-9). Valencia, Spain: ThinkMind/IARIA. Retrieved from

Wolff, J. (2013, June 24). It’s too early to write off the lecture. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Wood, W. B. (2009). Innovations in teaching undergraduate biology and why we need them. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, 25, 93-112.

How to Cite
Hartfield, P. (2013). Blended learning as an effective pedagogical paradigm for biomedical science. Higher Learning Research Communications, 3(4), 59-67.