I was reading some of the articles posted for the CFHE12 MOOC and was thinking about why it is that research shows that blended learning is more effective than either face-to-face or online models of teaching.
I know I sound like a broken record, but could it be the underlying psychological principles that are at play here? Does a blended environment lend itself to better engagement with students? Does good blended learning lead to a more thoughtful curriculum design? Or, does improved performance arise out of a coincidental convergence of several factors?
Something is fundamentally changed in a blended environment in order for student performance and satisfaction to be increased. The research on blended learning suggests that students spend more time, or have more time to spend, on the work. However, other research suggests that students have the time, if they choose to prioritise their studies (they spend on average between 26 and 28 hours a week on studies). I know that one of the principles of psychology that will enhance engagement in learning is empowerment in the learning process. I wonder if the blended aspects allow the students to feel some measure of control that they otherwise wouldn’t feel. In the Educause chapter, on postmodality in learning, there is an emphasis on flexibility as the key to new directions. Flexibility, from a learners perspective, is situational empowerment. That may not be empowerment in what they learn, but it is empowerment in the process of learning.