Face-to-face vs. blended learning in higher education: a quantitative analysis of biological science student outcomes


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he COVID-19 pandemic caused a rapid seismic shift to online delivery in otherwise face-to-face higher education settings worldwide. This quantitative research study sought to investigate the effect of different delivery styles and assessment types on student outcomes. Specifically, grades achieved by first year undergraduate Biological Science students at a UK Higher Education institution were compared from seven modules across two different academic years, namely 2018–2019 and 2020–2021. The academic year 2018–2019 was delivered in the traditional face-to-face manner whereas the 2020–2021 method of delivery was via blended learning. The results showed that four of the seven modules were negatively affected by the transition from face-to-face to blended delivery (p < 0.05, T-test). One module was unaffected (p > 0.05, T-test) and the remaining two modules were positively affected (p < 0.05, T-test). However, the percentage of students requiring reassessments increased with blended learning delivery although this was not significant (p < 0.05, T-test). In summary, the majority of individual module marks decreased with blended learning compared to face-to-face delivery, with an associated increase in required reassessments. Although there are positive benefits to incorporating an element of online learning for students, it is important to utilise this information in future module delivery planning to support the varying student cohorts of the future.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2024


  • Assessment
  • Blended online learning
  • Face-to-face
  • Higher education
  • Teaching


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