The Transition To Blended Learning: Students’ Perceptions Of Online Interaction

Bentinck, Valerie Ann (2020). The Transition To Blended Learning: Students’ Perceptions Of Online Interaction. EdD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

This thesis investigates the problem of low student interest and interaction in online synchronous and asynchronous activity during a transitional phase to blended learning. The key research question investigated how students’ experience of blended learning might inform practice, in order to improve students’ participation in online interaction. The participants were a self-selected sample of 581 students aged 19 to 73 years and predominately woman students. This sample was obtained from 13 regions of The Open University across the UK from students who had studied two undergraduate psychology modules at The Open University during the transition in 2012 to a blended learning tuition strategy. A mixed-methods case study design was employed, composed of an adapted version the Course Experience Questionnaire originally designed by Ramsden (1991). This instrument consisted of 37 questions exploring students’ perceptions of the introduction of blended learning into their respective modules, further modified with the addition of a ‘tick-box’ media survey and an expandable window for students to offer open comments on their experience. Factor analysis was applied to the two sets of quantitative data and thematic analysis to the qualitative data set, employing a convergent design. The findings from the three data sets complemented each other to represent the students’ perspectives on blended learning which served to reveal areas of students’ learning and interaction that did not comfortably align with theoretical ideas and expectations regarding blended learning provision, suggesting a social constructivist theoretical explanation to account for this disjuncture. The findings draw attention to the pedagogy and design of blended learning that remain relevant in practice today. Enhancing the performance of curriculum design and delivery is suggested in order to further develop the blended learning experience of students. It is recommended that some reconceptualisation of the tutors’ role should be considered. Further qualitative research to coalesce feedback from module designers, tutors and students on blended learning modules is also recommended.

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