Collaborative Active Learning Activities Promote Deep Learning in a Chemistry-Biochemistry Course


Currently in higher education, there is a move towards providing more student-centred learning experiences, where students are actively involved in the learning process. To promote learner engagement and communication between peers, many educators utilise collaborative active learning activities. This study aimed to demonstrate that an active learning curriculum developed for a Chemistry-Biochemistry unit, allowed students to gain a deep understanding of the content, while developing key academic skills. In each face-to-face session of the Chemistry-Biochemistry unit, students participated in collaborative active learning activities including Participation+ and a variety of Padlet activities. The students were also challenged to develop their written communication skills, by taking part in a formative In-Class Writing Task. Survey results indicated that the active learning curriculum provided an engaging, interactive environment that was conducive to the students developing an understanding of the course’s underlying concepts and developing key academic skills. The students communicated their deep understanding of the content verbally during active learning activities and in writing during the In-Class Writing Task, written assignment and final exam. Students who consistently communicated deep knowledge of the content during the In-Class Writing Task achieved high marks on the summative written assignment, final exam and unit total. This study clearly demonstrates that the active learning curriculum employed in the Chemistry-Biochemistry unit provided a collaborative and engaging learning environment, where many students developed a deep understanding of the content and acquired the skills to communicate their knowledge both orally and through written communication.

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Correspondence to Daniel A. Andrews.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethics Approval

For this research project, we gained ethics approval from the Endeavour College of Natural Health HREC (Approval Number: 20160723).

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No personal data was used in this publication. All student results and quotes have been deidentified. However, students gave their consent to participate in the study and have the results published by signing a form detailing the study and how the results would be used.

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Andrews, D.A., Sekyere, E.O. & Bugarcic, A. Collaborative Active Learning Activities Promote Deep Learning in a Chemistry-Biochemistry Course. Med.Sci.Educ. 30, 801–810 (2020).

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  • Active learning
  • Collaborative learning
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry