CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Gertrude W Abramson

Committee Member

Timothy J Ellis

Committee Member

Martha M Snyder

Abstract

Blended learning has sometimes been calledthe best of both worlds, combining the advantages of face-to-face instruction with the advantages of online learning. It has been in existence for over a decade, and more research needed to be done to determine its efficacy and desirability for community colleges. The goal of this dissertation was to document the ways in which blended learning has changed the community college learning experience.

The investigation took place at Ulster County Community College, a small rural college in upstate New York. A mixed method, triangulation design was used. Quantitative data were collected from the college's student database regarding final grades in each of the three delivery modes (face-to-face, blended, and fully online). An analysis of variance looked at difference in achievement among the three modalities. No statistically significant difference was found. Archival end-of-semester student questionnaires were analyzed and it was found that even in the early years of blended learning, students were generally satisfied and appreciated the convenience of the blended modality.

Qualitative data were collected through a student focus group and faculty interviews. Student priorities were teacher presence, faculty skill at teaching blended classes, and the support that was available to them from the faculty and administration. Faculty voiced concerns with transitioning from teaching face-to-face or online to teaching blended.

The results suggest that it is not the modality of the course that determines whether or not a student is successful; teacher presence, whether online or in person, is a strong indicator of student success and satisfaction. An instructor who is well-versed in the pedagogy of blended learning, a course with skillfully designed and integrated online components, and an administration that provides channels for technical support, combine to provide students with a successful blended learning experience.

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