RESEARCH ARTICLE: Online versus classroom learning in pharmacy education: Students' preference and readiness


  • Qi Ying Lean Universiti Teknologi MARA, Pulau Pinang & Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor
  • Long Chiau Ming Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Gadong & University of Tasmania, Tasmania
  • Yuet Yen Wong Universiti Teknologi MARA, Cawangan Pulau Pinang, Kampus Bertam, Pulau Pinang
  • Chin Fen Neoh Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor
  • Maryam Farooqui Qassim University, Unaizah, Qassim
  • Siti Nur Fadzilah Muhsain Universiti Teknologi MARA, Cawangan Pulau Pinang, Kampus Bertam, Pulau Pinang


Classroom, e-Learning, Pedagogy, Teaching Methodology, Web-based


Introduction: Online learning has been adopted in delivering many courses by tertiary education institutions due to several advantages it offers. Similarly, online learning has been promoted in pharmacy education to enhance student learning. This study explored pharmacy students’ performance and preferences towards online versus classroom learning.

Methods: An online learning module was developed for an independent subject focused on basic patient counselling skills based on the course syllabus of Hospital Pharmacy. All second-year Diploma in Pharmacy students were stratified into online learning and face-to-face learning groups according to their cumulative grade point average (GPA) scores. The two groups were then invited to learn separately via online or face-to-face learning. After the activities, students’ knowledge on the subject was compared before they completed an online feedback survey.

Results: There was no significant difference between the knowledge scores when comparing online learning and face- to-face learning, suggesting online learning was as effective as the face-to-face learning method. The majority of students reported that they enjoyed online learning and found that online learning was a useful learning tool. Having said that, most students purported a preference for a blended learning approach. The students valued the interaction available in face-to-face learning and the time flexibility offered by online learning.

Conclusion: Online and face-to-face learning methods were found equally effective for student learning, yet pharmacy students denoted that they favoured a blended learning approach. Although computer and innovative technologies diversify existing teaching and learning methodologies, matching students’ learning needs is crucial when selecting the delivery approach to maximise student learning outcomes.

Author Biographies

Qi Ying Lean, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Pulau Pinang & Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor

Faculty of Pharmacy, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Pulau Pinang & Vector-Borne Diseases Research Group (VERDI), Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences CoRe, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor

Long Chiau Ming, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Gadong & University of Tasmania, Tasmania

PAP Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences, Universiti Brunei Darussalam & Unit for Medication Outcomes Research and Education (UMORE), Pharmacy, School of Medicine, University of Tasmania

Yuet Yen Wong, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Cawangan Pulau Pinang, Kampus Bertam, Pulau Pinang

Faculty of Pharmacy

Chin Fen Neoh, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor

Faculty of Pharmacy & Collaborative Drug Discovery Research (CDDR) Group, Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Community of Research

Maryam Farooqui, Qassim University, Unaizah, Qassim

Assistant Professor & Coordinator of Pharmacy Pracice - Unaizah College of Pharmacy

Siti Nur Fadzilah Muhsain, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Cawangan Pulau Pinang, Kampus Bertam, Pulau Pinang

Senior Lecturer - Faculty of Pharmacy


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How to Cite

Lean, Q. Y., Ming, L. C., Wong, Y. Y., Neoh, C. F., Farooqui, M., & Muhsain, S. N. F. (2020). RESEARCH ARTICLE: Online versus classroom learning in pharmacy education: Students’ preference and readiness. Pharmacy Education, 20(1), p 19–27. Retrieved from



Research Article