A Project-based learning approach to protein biochemistry suitable for both face-to-face and distance education students

Robyn Prior, Jade Forwood

    Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


    Flexible learning approaches are being increasingly adopted within universities to improve the learning outcomes for students. Online, distance and project-based learning are examples of teaching and learning methods that have gained popularity due to their ability to deliver course outcomes in a flexible manner. At Charles Sturt University, students undertaking the degree of Bachelor of Biotechnology can study all subjects in either face-to-face or distance education modes. Prior to 2006, one core second-year subject within the course, Protein Biochemistry, was delivered in a more 'traditional' style to both cohorts of students. Face-to-face students were given didactic lectures on protein structure, function and analysis techniques, while distance education students were provided with a study guide, lecture notes, and a prescribed text. Laboratory practicals were also a component of the subject, completed by distance education students at an on-campus residential school. Both cohorts of students had access to an online subject page where they could discuss subject material on a forum and access learning resources such as tutorial worksheets. Students evaluated in 2003-2005 felt that the subject was difficult, were not able to see connections between different subject topics and frequently performed poorly in the subject examinations. As the assessment was predominantly ... [more]exam-based, students were particularly focused on 'what will be in the exam' rather than the subject material. In response to both staff and student feedback, alternative learning and teaching approaches were considered. In 2006, the project-based learning (PrBL) pedagogy was implemented into both face-to-face and distance education modes, fully replacing traditional lectures, study guides and examinations with a project-based curriculum. In this paper the authors present a description of the PrBL approach used simultaneously in both face-to-face and distance education modes to teach Protein Biochemistry. A preliminary evaluation of the implementation of this approach is also included.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSymposium Proceedings: Science Teaching and Learning Research including Threshold Concepts
    EditorsIan Johnston
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    PublisherUniServe Science
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Print)9781742100050
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    EventUniserve Science Symposium - Sydney, Australia
    Duration: 28 Sept 200729 Sept 2007


    ConferenceUniserve Science Symposium


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