1 Qatar University (QATAR)
2 University of Bath (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Page: 286 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
Qatar University (QU) College of Pharmacy (CPH) offers a post-baccalaureate Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program to practicing pharmacists who wish to continue their education and training part-time. For these “place-bound” graduate students unable to attend live classroom lectures, QU CPH designed a blended learning experience whereby they access content delivered and recorded to undergraduate students on-campus (ECHO360® lecture capture) that is then uploaded as part of their courses. This distance-based (asynchronous) instruction is complemented with monthly face-to-face (synchronous) interactive activity on-campus. This didactic phase continues over two years to prepare students for their third-year clinical placements (the internship phase). QU CPH is the only program on-campus administering such distance-based hybrid courses and represents the only regional part-time graduate study plan for pharmacists in the Middle East. It is necessary then to conduct an assessment of student perspectives and experiences to ensure we are meeting theirs and future students’ learning needs.

To explore the student experiences and satisfaction with the didactic phase of the QU part-time PharmD (PTPD) program according to existing best practice standards of distance learning.

An exploratory thematic analysis of focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with current QU PTPD students and alumni was undertaken. Consenting participants joined two externally facilitated 45-60 minute discussions regarding their preparedness and experiences enrolled in the blended learning courses and recommendations for improvements. Audio-recordings were transcribed by a research assistant and subsequently independently verified by the facilitator. Preliminary summaries were circulated to participants for feedback prior to final coding into determined themes.

Twelve students (representing 50% of our enrolled student and alumni sample population) participated in two focus group discussions. Three main themes were identified and included issues surrounding the courses’: online platform; on-campus reinforcement of distance-based content; and workload. A number described frustrations when technical problems arose and the resultant impact on delaying study or assignment completion. Most faced some initial difficulty in time-management given the volume of weekly assignments, but recognized their utility to enrich the quality of the monthly on-campus activities All participants (n=10) who have reached the internship felt that the didactic courses prepared them well to deliver direct patient care at a higher level than they were capable of before they enrolled in the program.

While most students and alumni expressed high levels of satisfaction with the didactic phase of the program, important insights were expressed regarding the challenges of distance-based study. The accompanying QU PTPD course coordinator self-assessment, internal and external peer-assessment study of the didactic phase program according to existing best practice standards of distance learning will further inform additional improvements to our blended program delivery.
Blended learning, pharmacy, Middle East.