A recent survey reveals that teacher training may impact student opinion in blended courses
With blended learning, the computer may provide much of the learning fundamentals and students must be more self-regulated than in a traditional industrial model classroom, but the teacher still plays a vital (albeit different) role.
School leaders need to be aware of this, and need to have pathways developed to transition teachers to this new environment. Thus, teachers must be trained in the different pedagogy, and this should impact the way professional development is delivered.
The effect of the teacher is demonstrated by the results of a survey I recently conducted of our school’s students in a self-paced blended learning course. All students used the same learning resources in “lessons” of the same duration and were in the same physical environment. The only factor that varied was the teacher. In this case, one teacher had not been trained in the differences between the self-paced blended learning environment and the traditional classroom; this teacher had to work out the differences “on the fly.” The other teacher had been working in a self-paced blended learning environment for more than four years, and was successful and enthusiastic about the environment.
Students responded to a number of survey questions. There was a five point scale for responses, with 1 being very positive and 5 being very negative, and with 3 being neutral.
The questions are shown below.
- How do you rate (overall) the way that we “do” this subject?
- How do you find the online tutorial approach affects your learning in class?
- How do you find the tutorial approach affects the speed of your learning?
- Do you find the online approach better for reviewing information?
- How easy is it to get help when you get “stuck” with a problem and you are not sure what to do?
- Your teacher talks less often in this subject than in a “normal” class. Is this better for your learning?
- Most of your time in class is spent “doing things”, with explanation from the teacher on occasion. Is this better for your learning?
This survey has operated in previous years and the results had been consistent. However, the survey discussed in this article highlighted “anomalous” results, which highlighted the need for teachers to be trained in the principles of teaching effectively in a blended learning environment (rather than just being told of the differences).