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Faculty and student perspectives on hybrid instruction
Why are instructors interested in blended learning, and what are their perspectives about it? Three major elements of interest to instructors are:
- Impact on learning – the ability to engage students in deeper, more active learning activities;
- Impact on workload – both in the time it takes to design a blended course and in the ability of blended learning to allow them to focus on different kinds of teaching than lecturing alone and
- Recognition that faculty efforts are valued – knowing that the institution acknowledges and rewards instructors for engaging in teaching approaches.
Many faculty members adopt blended learning because they believe it will improve learning effectiveness, while some also believe it will add convenience and improve efficiency. However, it is important to note that these outcomes will only come with thoughtful design. Simply adding blended activities without ensuring meaningful connections to the classroom and providing helpful feedback and assessment may not lead to significant outcomes.
A major factor to examine in any effort is whether someone would repeat their efforts once the task is completed. The University of Central Florida reported that 88% of the faculty who taught blended courses were satisfied with the course and would teach it in a blended format again in the future (Dzuiban, Hartman, and Moskal, 2004). This data, however, comes from an institute with a solid support ecosystem for blended learning. The UW–Madison’s Educational Innovation initiative is working to build such an ecosystem for our campus, and this toolkit is a part of that.
In planning a blended course, instructors should know how students perceive such an approach. Knowing the issues students feel are important will help during the design phase. Below are some general comments found in the literature about students’ attitudes toward blended learning. Consider gathering similar feedback from students upon completing your blended course, too.
General student comments
- “I thought it worked well, I was much more prepared for in-class discussion/participation; learned on my own while also in-class extended my knowledge on the information.”
- “It was a positive experience that I felt increased my knowledge of the area more than a traditional approach.”
(Kenney and Newcombe, 2011)
- Blending helped to promote interest in the course material, with 59% of the students perceiving an increased interest in the content and 75% indicating that the approach helped them to go into more depth on the topics.
- Sixty-four percent (64%) of the students felt more engaged in the course material with the blended format.
- Students reported that the major skills they learned as a result of using the blended learning format were better time management and organization, more responsibility and self-discipline for learning, and increased proficiency in using technology for learning. Student comment: “I think [blended learning] teaches responsibility and that we are not always going to be spoon-fed the material (Kenney and Newcombe, 2011.”