The potential and pitfalls of blended learning: an investigation of student and teacher perceptions of blended learning in two Australian secondary science classes

Martinsen, Bryn W. (2017) The potential and pitfalls of blended learning: an investigation of student and teacher perceptions of blended learning in two Australian secondary science classes. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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In 2013, The FNQ Explicit Teaching Project was implemented in an effort to improve learning outcomes for all students in Far North Queensland. The policy was developed to address perceptions of poor teaching quality brought about, in part, by Queensland's performance in the inaugural 2008 NAPLAN tests (Hardy, 2016). At the same time, teachers at the school where I was working were looking for ways to increase student participation and engagement in science lessons. Lyons and Quinn (2010) argue engaging and inclusive science teaching is more valued by students, and Carter et al. (2012) found that students perform well in learning situations that promote competence, engender autonomy, and encourage relatedness. Integrating new and emerging technologies into the classroom has the potential to make learning more engaging through individualised and cooperative learning opportunities (Chandra & Briskey, 2012; Chandra & Watters, 2012; O. L. Liu, Lee, & Linn, 2010; Lyons & Quinn, 2010; Rosen & Nelson, 2008; Sun & Looi, 2013). One approach used to integrate new technologies into classrooms is blended learning. Blended learning or hybrid learning is the combination of online and traditional face-to-face learning in a synergistic manner (De George-Walker & Keeffe, 2010; Francis & Shannon, 2013). Studies investigating the use of blended learning in secondary math and science have found that students generally have a positive perception of learning using the approach, leading to higher academic achievement and improved student engagement (Chandra & Briskey, 2012; Chandra & Watters, 2012; Yapici & Akbayin, 2012). However, much of research on blended learning has been conducted in universities, and few studies have explored student and teacher perceptions of using blended learning in secondary schools. To better understand the potential and pitfalls of blended learning, I chose to investigate the implementation of blended learning in two of my Year 10 Science classes.

Loughran (2002) wrote that "Teacher-researchers can be characterised as those practitioners who attempt to better understand their practice, and its impact on their students, by researching the relationship between teaching and learning in their world of work" (Loughran, 2002, p. 3). As a reflective practitioner my goal was to look deeply at my own teaching practice and its impact on my students as a means of self-reflection to guide improvements in my teaching practice. To do this I needed to examine both my own and my students' perceptions of blended learning in secondary science. I conducted the study in a public secondary school in Far North Queensland with two, Year 10 science classes using a convergent mixed methods strategy of inquiry. During the study I collected and analysed qualitative and quantitative data including pre- and post-test scores, student surveys using the Web-based Learning Environment Instrument (WEBLEI), student focus-group interviews, in-class observations from a third party (explicit teaching coach), and teacher-researcher observation and reflections.

My results contribute to our understanding of factors that influence student and teacher perceptions of blended learning, and elucidate the potential and pitfalls of using blended learning in secondary science. Results from the pre-test and post-test comparison demonstrated that blended learning had a positive effect on my students' achievement in secondary science, and the qualitative data indicates that my students felt that blended learning had a positive influence on their achievement. My research shows that students valued blended learning features which allowed them to learn at their own pace, prioritise specific topics, catch up at home on missed lessons, revise past lessons, access online text-books, access self-marking quizzes, and learn using engaging learning objects. Interestingly, my research revealed mixed perceptions of blended learning with the majority of students (62%) indicating that they learned more with blended learning, but only 55% indicating that they enjoyed learning in this modality. From a teacher-researcher perspective, I found that the Explicit Teaching Model – FNQ provided a sound framework for structuring and planning secondary science unit using blended learning. While it was initially very time consuming to design lessons and quizzes, in the long run I feel this would be alleviated by the ability to re-use content with only slight modification in subsequent iterations. My research fills a gap by providing insight into using explicit teaching as a framework for planning and implementing blended learning in secondary science and demonstrates the value of high level practitioner research.

Item ID: 52509
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Australian Curriculum, blended learning, Far North Queensland, FNQ Explicit Teaching Project, pedagogies, Science, secondary school science, secondary science, student engagement, web-based learning
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2018 01:54
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930203 Teaching and Instruction Technologies @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930103 Learner Development @ 50%
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