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Current thinking in education emphasizes a transition from traditional course design to enhance flexibility in instructional materials and methods to better meet learner needs and enhance learning outcomes. New “blended learning” approaches combine face-to-face learning in traditional classrooms with internet-based learning. Young (2002) notes that blended learning is an established trend in higher education, and predicts this format will eventually become the mainstream. Accelerating economic change and industrial disruption emphasizes the need to provide students with flexible problem solving skills which can be adapted and applied to future conditions which are difficult to anticipate. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and other educational strategies have been found to significantly improve learning outcomes and to promote the development of effective problem solving attitudes and abilities (Schoenfeld and Herman, 1982; Brown and Kane, 1988; Lin, 1992; Huang, 2005; Hsieh, 2007; Huang, 2011). This research seeks to develop a concept of blended problem-based learning (blended PBL), which is then applied in university biotechnology courses to assess the impact on learning attitudes and attitudes and abilities for problem solving.
Based on the research results, the following conclusions are drawn:
(1) The use of blended PBL used in a bioinformatics course does not significantly improve student learning attitudes The following factors were found to influence the impact on learning attitudes: (I) The experimental course only lasted eight weeks, making it difficult to obtain the expected experimental result. (II) Students in the experimental group improved their learning attitudes, but the degree of change was not statistically significant. On the other hand, it is possible that students in the control group also changed their learning attitudes to become more active. For example, they will actively search for related data to increase their knowledge in the field of bioinformatics. Such behavior might reduce the gap in improvement between the two groups. (III) Different individuals have different beliefs in regard to the value of bioinformatics.
(2) Blended PBL used in a bioinformatics course significantly improves student problem solving attitudes Following the course implemented using blended BPL, the experimental group, using blended BPL, showed positive attitudes towards problem solving in bioinformatics, and the degree of improvement was significantly greater than that shown by students taught through traditional methods. In other words, learners’ problem solving attitude and problem solving ability can be enhanced through the application of appropriate instructional strategies. Such improvements to problem solving attitudes will enable learners to better respond to a range of problems encountered later in life.