Investigating Student Perceptions and the Effectiveness of K-12 Blended Learning Communities

Investigating Student Perceptions and the Effectiveness of K-12 Blended Learning Communities

Gina Tovine (Florida Virtual School, USA), April Fleetwood (Florida Virtual School, USA), Andrew Shepherd (Florida Virtual School, USA), Colton J. Tapoler (Florida Virtual School, USA), Richard Hartshorne (University of Central Florida, USA) and Raquel Pesce (Florida Virtual School, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8009-6.ch024
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While the growth of blended learning environments in higher education and non-educational settings has continued to increase in recent years, this has not been the case in K-12 settings. Recently, in an effort to explore the viability and effectiveness of K-12 blended learning environments, Florida Virtual School (FLVS) has been piloting blended learning communities in a number of their schools, providing opportunities to explore factors that influence the effectiveness of K-12 blended learning communities. Thus, the purpose of this chapter is to report the results of a study designed to assess conditions that influence the effectiveness of K-12 blended learning communities, and to explore learner, instructor, course, and other factors important to successful blended learning communities. Findings will inform the design, development, and implementation of future K-12 blended teaching and learning environments in an effort to support and strengthen student achievement, the preparation of teachers to facilitate effective blended learning environments.
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Theoretical Framework

As the prevalence of blended learning in K–12 settings is projected to increase, it is critical to explore factors that influence improved student achievement and satisfaction in these environments. Student satisfaction is paramount, as it influences a number of potential concerns in blended learning settings, including achievement levels and completion rates. Previous models in eLearning settings, including the expectation and confirmation model (Bhattacherjee, 2001), tend to have more of a technology-centric focus and provide limited examination of other factors relevant to student satisfaction in eLearning settings. Sun, Tsai, Finger, Chen, and Yeh (2008), however, presented a more comprehensive framework, extending the focus from technology-centric variables to provide a broader view of factors that influence student satisfaction with blended learning communities. These factors included learner, instructor, course, technology, design, and environmental dimensions. For our study, we adopted a modified version of this framework, omitting design dimensions (perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use), because we felt the framework addresses these dimensions adequately within the other five factors influencing student satisfaction. A detailed explanation of each of the factors that the student survey covered follows.

Key Terms in this Chapter

FLVS Flex: Flexible program offered through Florida Virtual School that provides students courses that they may take during their regular school day in a lab at their home school.

Blended Learning: Course instruction that combines traditional face-to-face instruction and online course components, with learning therefore occurring both inside a school’s walls and online.

Blended Learning Community: A community of learners within a school that is participating in a lab-based online course, with instruction that occurs both online and in person.

Lab-Based Course: Term used to refer to a blended-learning community in this study’s student survey because this terminology is familiar to students.

Discussion-Based Assessments: These assessments are verbal chats between the FLVS Flex Course Instructor and the student to ensure the student is progressing adequately and gaining necessary understandings to proceed in the course.

FLVS Flex Course Instructors: These are the teachers of the courses provided by FLVS; they work with students who are enrolled in FLVS Flex courses, instructing and communicating with them via video, email, phone, etc.

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