The Blended Learning Environment in Higher Education: The Tutor and Student Perspective

The Blended Learning Environment in Higher Education: The Tutor and Student Perspective

Ellen Boeren (University of Edinburgh, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9577-1.ch008
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Abstract

This chapter explores the author's experiences with blended learning, both as a tutor and as a student at a British Russell Group University. The chapter starts from the importance of encouraging an autonomy supporting learning environment, featured within self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000). In the first part of the chapter, definitions of blended learning will be briefly reviewed. Secondly, the role of the learning environment will be explained, drawing upon previous research on learning environments undertaken by Darkenwald and Valentine (1986), mentioning the importance of the learning environment within motivational theories. Thirdly, results of a critical analysis on the own teaching and learning practice will be conducted, comparing the perspective of being a tutor and being a student. Finally, recommendations for future teaching practice will be discussed, before concluding this chapter.
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Introduction

This chapter explores the author’s experiences with blended learning, both as a tutor and as a student at a British Russell Group University and starts from the importance of encouraging an autonomy supporting learning environment, featured within self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

In the first part of the chapter, definitions of blended learning will be briefly reviewed. Secondly, the role of the learning environment will be explained, drawing upon previous research on learning environments undertaken by Darkenwald and Valentine (1986), in which the importance of the learning environment will be linked to motivational theories. Thirdly, results of a critical analysis on the own teaching and learning practice will be conducted, comparing the perspective of being a tutor in several post-graduate courses, and of being a student in a post-graduate programme based on a range of dimensions measuring the quality of the learning environment. Finally, recommendations for future teaching practice will be discussed, before concluding this chapter.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blended Learning: Within this chapter, blended learning has been defined as the mix between traditional face-to-face learning and online learning

Tutor: Within this chapter, the tutor refers to the person guiding the students through their learning process. The term tutor has been chosen as it is the term used by the University for people working on Research Methods courses. The tutor is in fact the facilitator of both the online and the face-to-face discussion groups.

Motivation: Motivation refers to the will to strive towards certain goals. In the self-determination theory, motivation is divided between controlled and autonomous, coming from the outside versus the inside.

Learning Environment: The learning environment refers to a set of factors that happen within the learning setting, such as the involvement of the student, the task orientation, the student affiliation … The learning environment is often measured through subjective experience, having an important impact on student outcomes and well-being.

Autobiographical Method: The autobiographical method refers to a specific form of research. Data collected within autobiographical research come from the own life experiences of the research and the author of the work.

Student: This chapter refers to students, targeting students at university’s post-graduate level with in a British University.

Virtual Learning Environment: A Virtual Learning Environment is an online platform which can be used by tutors and students as a tool within the learning process. It can be used to post learning materials, but also to stimulate discussions, to submit and evaluate student assessments.

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