Teacher and student perspectives on a blended learning intensive English program writing course
Elizabeth A Thompson
The use of Blended Learning (BL) in higher education has increased significantly during the past decade. This dissertation investigates the use of BL with ESL writing students in an intensive English program. The purpose was to investigate how to prepare ESL teachers to create a productive BL environment for their ESL writing students. This includes an investigation of how to best train the teachers in BL pedagogy and online teaching technology and a measure of the students' perceptions of the BL environment with respect to its productiveness. Finally, the study sought to discover how students experienced the teacher's practice and behavior and the extent to which these factors affected student perceptions of the course and BL environment in general. A mixed-methods approach was employed which involved quantitative and qualitative data collection from 41 ESL students and five ESL teachers. The teachers were trained in BL pedagogy and given pedagogical and technical support throughout the semester, after which both students and teachers were given questionnaires and were interviewed in order to determine their experiences in the BL environment. The findings indicate that the teachers needed a fairly minimal amount of pedagogical and technical training to employ BL successfully. Collaborative planning also proved very beneficial, together with technical and pedagogical support throughout the semester. Students were found to work more autonomously and focused while becoming more responsible for their own learning. This enabled the teachers to better provide personalized assistance, keep better track of student progress, and cover more materials. Students also liked learning in the BL environment and indicated they would prefer this to more conventional classes. Lastly, teacher practice and behavior was found to have minimal influence on student perceptions of the BL environment though some results suggested that teacher experience might be a predictor of student satisfaction with their teachers.