Factors Necessary for Engaging Preservice Teachers Studying in Virtual and Blended Courses

Factors Necessary for Engaging Preservice Teachers Studying in Virtual and Blended Courses

Gila Cohen Zilka (Bar-Ilan University, Tel-Aviv, Israel & Achva Academic College, Arugot, Israel) and Orit Zeichner (Kibbutzim College of Education, Tel-Aviv, Israel)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJMBL.2019010104

Abstract

In their encounter with a virtual or blended learning environment, students are liable to perceive the situation as a challenge or as a threat. The physical separation between teacher and students may lead to “transactional distance,” which in turn can cause a sense of threat and create anger, gaps in understanding, or misconceptions among the learners about themselves and about the learning process. Students may grasp the situation as a “challenge” or a “threat.” The aim of the article is to determine the factors necessary for engaging preservice teachers studying in virtual and blended courses, which are critical to feelings of challenge and threat among these students. The sample included 578 participants in a mixed-method study. The present study found that differential interpersonal communication, feedback, and forums may lead to a decrease in feelings of threat and an increase in the sense of challenge. Some learners need only intellectual interaction; others need both intellectual and emotional interaction.
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Introduction

The study examined two learning environments: virtual and blended courses. In their encounter with the virtual or blended learning environment, students are liable to grasp the situation as a challenge or as a threat. A situation perceived as positive stimulates activity, whereas a situation perceived as stressful is liable to provoke an emotional response of challenge or threat. When an individual feels threatened, their feelings of uncertainty and lack of self-efficacy are strengthened, and they may renounce carrying out tasks, focusing on defending themselves and preserving the existing situation. This can lead to poor performance of the tasks to which they must attend. The physical separation between teacher and students can lead to “transactional distance” between them, which in turn can lead to a sense of threat, produce anger, gaps in understanding, or misconceptions among learners about themselves and about the learning process. In the current study we asked the question: what are the critical causes for feelings of challenge and threat among student teachers enrolled in virtual and blended courses, and how can these factors be addressed?

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