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