Research Digest: Blended Learning Discussions

| May 19, 2010

Shroff, R. & Vogel, D. (2010). An Investigation on Individual Students’ Perceptions of Interest Utilizing a Blended Learning Approach. International Journal on E-Learning, 9(2), 279-294. Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Article Review

Little is known about the impact of a blended learning approaches on individual student interest and whether combinations of online and face-to-face learning activities significantly enhance student interest (Shroff & Vogel, 2010). This paper assesses the effect of blended learning on perceived individual student interest, utilizing a blend of online and face-to-face discussions. The researchers made the hypothesis based on the literature surrounding situated interest (Hidi & Anderson,1992;Mitchell,1993) and motivation (Ryan &Delci,200) that perceptions of individual students’ interest will be higher in online discussions compared to face-to-face discussions.

The study was quasi-experimental exploratory study with two treatment groups, online discussions versus face-to-face discussions. There were 77 participants in an Information Systems course for this study. Four consecutive tutorials were conducted that focussed on the technology support online discussion activities using the Blackboard Virtual Classroom. Conversely, four weeks of the non-technology supported face-to-face discussions were facilitated after the weeks of online discussions with the same group. Surveys were administered at the end of each of the focussed activities to determine perceived interest of the participants. Based on these survey scores, T-test analysis was performed to determine if there were significant differences between the groups. Results showed that there was not a significant difference found between the groups based on their perception of interest in online versus face-to-face discussions. However, observations from the study suggest that subjects in the online discussions were eager to engage in textual diaglogue and participated more in the discussions compared to the face-to-face discussions. I would have liked to see more rigorous use of such ‘observations’ in this study. It would have been beneficial for them to expand beyond only the survey measure and focus upon the data that they were able to/potentially could have collected during the discussion times of the course to contribute more qualitative data around how individual participants differed. So potentially expanding their data set into a series of case studies that critically analyze on a deeper level how interest is tied with motivations for discussion across contexts.

Edlab Connection

As suggested in this paper’s discussion further research surrounding situated interest and intrinsic motivation theory in technology-supported learning environments is needed and Edlab could potentially contribute. As designers of learning experiences for the Teaching and Learning Network exploring based on interest and motivational dimensions could be a research agenda. This paper supports the inquiry into learning how to use technology effectively and what methodologies can support the design of learning experiences based on student interest and intrinsic motivation. It even goes as far as to suggest a potential model in which to do this deeper assessment by using Malone & Lepper’s (1987) intrinsic motivation types such as fantasy, playfulness and control. They posit that people are treating technology systems not as tools to achieve external goals but as toys to use for their own sake. This assumption would increase the dimensions of fantasy and control based on this model. So potentially exploring how interest and motivation exist within the variety of kinds of courses being created for the T&L network could be a valuable research endeavor for course authors to consider. Interest could also be a potential indicator of the kind of content that is in demand for such a network.