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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Effects of a blended learning approach on student outcomes in a graduate-level public health course

Marc T Kiviniemi

Author Affiliations

Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, University at Buffalo, 314 Kimball Tower, 3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY, USA

BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:47  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-47

Published: 11 March 2014



Blended learning approaches, in which in-person and online course components are combined in a single course, are rapidly increasing in health sciences education. Evidence for the relative effectiveness of blended learning versus more traditional course approaches is mixed.


The impact of a blended learning approach on student learning in a graduate-level public health course was examined using a quasi-experimental, non-equivalent control group design. Exam scores and course point total data from a baseline, “traditional” approach semester (n = 28) was compared to that from a semester utilizing a blended learning approach (n = 38). In addition, student evaluations of the blended learning approach were evaluated.


There was a statistically significant increase in student performance under the blended learning approach (final course point total d = 0.57; a medium effect size), even after accounting for previous academic performance. Moreover, student evaluations of the blended approach were very positive and the majority of students (83%) preferred the blended learning approach.


Blended learning approaches may be an effective means of optimizing student learning and improving student performance in health sciences courses.

Blended learning; Flipped classroom; Graduate education in public health; Online education; Student learning