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This book discusses evidence-based practices related to the use of blended learning in both K-12 and higher education settings. Specifically, this book features evidence-based practices in relation to the following five learning goals: (a) Fostering students’ attitude change toward country, (b) Helping students’ solve ill-structured design task problems, (c) Improving students’ critical thinking in assessing sources of information, (d) Improving students’ narrative and argumentative writing abilities and (e) Enhancing students’ knowledge retention and understanding. To achieve this aim, the authors draw upon their own research studies as well as some other relevant studies to reveal the pedagogical approaches, the specific instructional/learning activities, the technologies utilized and the overall framework for developing blended learning experiences.



Chapter 1. Introduction

A recent study involving 113,035 students across 13 countries conducted by the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research found that blended learning environments persists as the preferred learning modality even when students are beginning to experiment with fully online open enrollment courses such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) (Dahlstrom et al. in ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research, Louisville, 2013). This chapter begins by presenting the various definitions used by scholars to characterize blended learning, ranging from a very board definition that encompasses almost multiple learning methods or techniques, to one that narrows it down to the integration of online and face-to-face components. Specifically, in this book, we used the following definition of blended learning, adapted from Horn and Staker (The rise of K-12 blended learning, Innosight Institute, CA, 2011): “blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through the Internet with some element of student control over time, place, and/or pace”. This chapter then discusses the reason why blended learning is increasingly being adopted by many educators by outlining its four main benefits: an ability to meet students’ educational needs, improving student-to-student communication, reducing the average overall per-student cost, and improving student learning outcomes as well as lowering attrition rates. More importantly, this chapter argues that the success of blended learning does not happen automatically, just because an online component is added to a face-to-face environment. Ultimately, the success or failure of blended learning hinges on a thoughtful connection between how the online and face-to-face components are integrated, the types of pedagogical approaches employed, and how all these elements are ‘blended’ together to attain the specific learning goals. This chapter ends by presenting a blended learning design framework that emerged from a recent study of seven experienced blended learning designers, along with a description of the various frameworks or taxonomies utilized in this book to classify the different types of pedagogies, cognitive processes of learning, and/or levels of affective learning.
Khe Foon Hew, Wing Sum Cheung

Chapter 2. Promoting Attitude Change Toward Country: A Theoretical Framework and Blended Learning Approach

Many countries around the world desire their students to have a positive attitude toward their own nations. Although the task of fostering a positive student attitude toward country is an important one, it may not be easy to achieve. The goal of this chapter is to provide a brief review of the scholarly literature on citizenship education, followed by a theoretical discussion on promoting attitude change particularly via the theory of persuasion, as well as a discussion of a blended learning approach that incorporates the use of persuasive messages, Socratic questions, asynchronous online discussion forums, and personal reflections. This paper concludes with a brief description of a research project of two grade five classes in Singapore that attempted to promote positive student attitude toward their country. The results of our study suggested that the blended learning approach was able to instil a positive student attitude to their country. Finally, we discuss several important lessons learned that could inform the design of future instructional strategies in implementing blended learning for the purpose of citizenship education.
Khe Foon Hew, Wing Sum Cheung

Chapter 3. Solving Design Problems: A Blended Learning Approach Based on Design Thinking Features

Individuals encounter various problems every day in their workplaces. The problems might involve decision-making (e.g., Should I use a bell to help my trainees settle down quickly lunch?), trouble-shooting (e.g. How do I get this printer to work with the computer?), or design (e.g. How can I design a weather forecasting lesson activity for a 40-min class period?). One particular concern of many teacher trainees is solving design related problems. Design problems are the most complex and ill-structured type of problem. In this chapter, we first describe the characteristics of ill-structured problems and later discuss how people design, including design thinking. We then describe some limitations of the traditional classroom environment to support design problem solving, and propose a blended learning approach which incorporates design thinking features. We subsequently describe an empirical study that tested this blended learning approach to help students, who took an education elective course, design instructional programs such as web-based learning material and computer-based multimedia learning packages. Overall, we found significantly better students’ performance in their final design projects (M = 18.5, SD = 2.21) compared to previous students (M = 14.9, SD = 3.50), (t = −3.525, df = 33, p < 0.01) who did not utilize the blended learning approach based on design thinking features. We discuss several important lessons learned that could inform the design of future instructional strategies in implementing blended learning for the purpose of helping students solve design problems.
Khe Foon Hew, Wing Sum Cheung

Chapter 4. Improving Social Studies Students’ Critical Thinking

The ability to think critically along with an awareness of local and global issues have been identified as important competencies that could benefit students as they journey through life in the 21st century (Voogt and Roblin 2012). Social studies, as a subject discipline, could serve as a conducive environment for the development of such competencies because it not only aims to equip students with information about important social-cultural issues within and without a country but also to inculcate critical thinking ability whereby students review, analyze, and make appropriate judgments based on particular evidences or ideas presented. This chapter reports a study that examines the effect of using blended learning approaches on social studies students’ critical thinking. This study relied on objective measurements of students’ critical thinking such as their actual performance scores, rather than students’ self-report data of their critical thinking levels. It employed a one-group pre- and post-test research design to examine the impact of a Socratic question-blogcast model on grade 10 students’ ability to critically evaluate controversial social studies issues. A paired-samples t-test was conducted to determine the potential critical thinking gain using a validated rubric. There was a significant difference in critical thinking between pre-intervention (M = 2.33 SD = 1.240) and post-intervention (M = 3.19 SD = 1.388), t(26) = −3.690, p < 0.001, with an effect size of 0.67. We also reported students’ perceptions of the Socratic question-blogcast blended learning approach to provide additional qualitative insights into how the approach was particularly helpful to the students.
Khe Foon Hew, Wing Sum Cheung

Chapter 5. Improving Students’ Argumentative Writing and Oral Proficiencies

Argumentative writing and oral proficiencies are two skills many students around the world are required to develop in their learning of the English language. However, these are two areas where not all students excel in. This chapter reports two studies that examined the effect of using blended learning approaches to improve students’ argumentative writing and oral proficiencies. The two studies relied on objective measurements of students’ performance outcomes such as their argumentative essay test scores, and oral proficiency scores determined by the Analytic Oral Proficiency Assessment Rubric, instead of students’ self-report data of their perceived writing or oral proficiencies. The first study employed a one-group pre- and post-test research design to examine the impact of a blended learning approach on grade 9 students’ ability to make claims, challenge them, and back them up by producing valid reasons. The results from a Wilcoxon Matched-Rank test showed a significant improvement of the students’ performance in their overall score in the post-test essays. The second study utilized a pre-test and post-test quasi-experimental design to investigate the use of a blended learning approach utilizing a Voice-Over-Instant-Messaging tool (Skype) on freshman’s English oral proficiency. The results from an ANCOVA test suggested that students in structured online discussions with the facilitation of English teaching assistants (ETAs) scored significantly higher in their oral proficiency tests compared to their counterparts in unstructured online discussions or structured online discussions without the facilitation of ETAs.
Khe Foon Hew, Wing Sum Cheung

Chapter 6. Enhancing Students’ Learning of Factual Knowledge

Factual knowledge is one of the most common types of knowledge that students are expected to learn. Factual knowledge may be described as the basic information about a particular subject or discipline that students must be acquainted with. This may include the terminology and the specific details or elements of a subject (Anderson and Krathwohl in A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing. Longman, New York, 2001). Acquiring factual knowledge is important to students because it serves as basic building blocks to understand the larger relationships among important information that define a subject. This chapter reports two recent empirical studies that examined the effect of using blended learning approaches on the learning of a particular factual knowledge—English vocabulary. The first study (Jung and Lee in Multimedia Assist Lang Learn 16(4):67–96, 2013) employed a one-group pre- and post-test design to investigate the impact of a blended learning approach that utilized Internet video clips on 21 Korean students’ vocabulary development. Overall, students showed a significant increase in test scores. The second study (Jia et al. Comput Educ, 58:63–76, 2012) employed a quasi-experiment design to study the effects of a blended learning approach utilizing individualized vocabulary review and assessment in Moodle on 47 Chinese students’ vocabulary knowledge. The results from an independent t-test revealed that students who used the blended learning approach performed significantly better in vocabulary tests compared to the control class which did not use the approach. We summarize the main lessons learned by cross comparing the key pedagogical and instructional strategies used in the two studies, and present these in the Conclusion section.
Khe Foon Hew, Wing Sum Cheung

Chapter 7. Future Research Directions for Blended Learning Research: A Programmatic Construct

In this chapter, we develop a programmatic research construct for blended learning based on an earlier framework proposed by Meyen et al. (J Special Educ Technol, 17(3):37–46, 2002). The use of this programmatic research construct will not only inform researchers of future possible research related to studying learner outcomes, but also expand the scope of blended learning research to other dimensions that are hitherto not yet investigated. This research construct consists of three categories of variables—independent variables, in situ variables, and dependent variables. Independent variables include variables such as the level or type of interaction, pedagogical approach, media attributes, and human computer interface design elements. In situ variables may be considered variables that are situated in the existing blended learning environment. They may include variables such as learner attributes, instructor attributes, learning environments, nature of content, and technology infrastructure. Dependent variables are the various outcomes that a researcher may measure in an experiment. They include variables such as learner outcomes, policy implications, and economic implications. In this final chapter, we will describe each of these variables and then propose several possible research questions to illustrate how the programmatic research construct for blended learning could be utilized in practice.
Khe Foon Hew, Wing Sum Cheung


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