Teaching Development Grants
Completed TDG Projects

Experiential Learning

Promoting Deep Learning in First Year Biochemistry Education under the New 4-Year Curriculum


The transition from the 3-year to the 4-year curriculum at HKU provided an opportunity to develop an innovative biochemistry course that promoted deep learning and also to investigate the impact of pedagogical approach on student learning by comparison with the concomitant traditional course. We measured surface and deep learning in the two courses quantitatively using a study process questionnaire at two time points in the semester. In the traditional course there was a concerning shift from deep to surface learning approaches through the semester as examinations approached. In the innovative new course which emphasized student engagement and adopted diverse assessment, the preference for deep learning was sustained with only a small reduction during the semester. Such evidence for the benefits of implementing student engagement and creative non-examination based assessment has important implications for the design, delivery and renewal of introductory science courses.

Principal Investigator

Dr. J.A. Tanner, Department of Biochemistry, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine Contact

Project level

Programme-level project

Project Completion

September 2013


  1. Course outline Download
  2. A paper has been published at the leading biochemistry education journal “Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education (BAMBED)” detailing our study to ensure international dissemination and impact of our work.  Furthermore, the results of our study were presented at the major international biochemistry & molecular biology conference (FEBS 2013) in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2013. Download
  3. The new Biochemistry course BIOC1600 was successfully delivered to over 200 first year students in both 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 with very good feedback from SETL, as well as formative and summative student interviews/questionnaires for the the two student cohorts.
  4. Detailed course materials, e-learning modules, and interactive education modules for BIOC1600 were developed that integrated student engagement and creative assessment approaches and were made available to students via the Moodle system.
  5. “Biochemistry in a Nutshell” short drama performances were presented to local secondary students in conjunction with the HKU Junior Science Institute during early 2013 which besides meeting student learning objectives integrated student learning with knowledge exchange efforts of the University.
  6. Please contact Dr. J.A. Tanner of Department of Biochemistry, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, by email (jatanner@hku.hk) if you are interested in obtaining more information on this project.