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The impact of learner-controlled blended instruction on academic achievement: A mixed method exploratory case study

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The impact of learner-controlled blended instruction on academic achievement: A mixed method exploratory case study

Acemian, Nancy (2013) The impact of learner-controlled blended instruction on academic achievement: A mixed method exploratory case study. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

ABSTRACT
The impact of learner-controlled blended instruction on academic achievement:
A mixed method exploratory case study
Nancy Acemian, Ph. D
Concordia University 2013

To date blended learning designs for university courses range from complementing the face-to-face class experience to replacing parts of the face-to-face contact time with online modules. The design is usually set by the instructor and/or instructional designer of the course and all students use the prescribed model. In introductory courses, typically first year courses, students’ prior knowledge of the course topic range from limited to substantial, especially in a computer programming course. Having all students in such a course confined to the same course structure is unlikely to respond to differential student needs. The design proposed and studied in this research paper thus deviates from this approach. The face-to-face course was supplemented by lecture capture and a number of learning objects available online for students to use whenever and wherever they want. Students chose to attend or not attend classes, and chose which online tools to use and when. That is, they could switch throughout the term between being a face-to-face student or a blended/hybrid student based on their varying learning needs at different points in the term. They only needed to be present for summative evaluations.
The study was exploratory in nature, looking at the relationship between students’ attendance records and their use of the online learning tools with their performance on summative evaluations. By examining the most successful usage patterns, the goal was to establish guidelines for students on how to best study in an introductory computer programming course.
The results showed that the attendance was not greatly affected by the availability of the lecture capture and learning tools online. Students initially used the online tools to supplement the in-class experience but not to replace it. Of the resources available online, the most popular was the lecture capture (a passive information tool) followed by the formative evaluation quizzes (an active cognitive tool). Students’ usage pattern of the tools changed during the term. Most students started off as a predominantly face-to-face student but many switched to being hybrid or blended learners. Many students never used the online environment and remained face-to-face learners. Of those who did use the online tools, three usage patterns emerged: the distributed user, the massed user and the one-time user. Results show that the distributed user significantly outperformed the massed users. The non-users, of which many had prior programming experience, also outperformed the massed users.
A secondary focus of this research was the role that math background played on the performance of students in the course. The literature addressing this issue yielded contradictory results, ranging from having no impact to giving an edge. While no relationship was found with math background and achievement, student’s ability to follow instructions, one of the skills tested for in the thinking skills measure, was a significant indicator of performance. Overall, the wide variability in use of the online learning environment demonstrated that this pedagogical model can effectively attend to differing needs of a heterogeneous student population. Encouraging students with low prior knowledge to make frequent use the online tools emerged as a recommendation for instructors and students alike.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Acemian, Nancy
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Educational Technology
Date:December 2013
Thesis Supervisor(s):Schmid, Richard
ID Code:978197
Deposited By: NANCY ACEMIAN
Deposited On:12 Jun 2014 19:48
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:46
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