Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to improve educator knowledge of the antecedents and consequences of blended learning in higher education.
Design/methodology/approach – A longitudinal case study approach is adopted. Three case studies each involve tracking a student evaluations of teaching (SET) measure (willingness to recommend) and grade point average for three subjects from the same business discipline over six years. The cases involve comparison of: a business subject taught solely online; a business subject where experimentation in the blend of face-to-face teaching and learning is involved; and a business subject where face-to-face teaching is primarily used, and where in the most recent iteration online content supplements the learners' experiences.
Findings – The findings suggest that there are situations where integrated use of blended learning involving face-to-face teaching, digital media and digital communication with simple navigation between the content items leads to positive student perceptions. This is in contrast to negative student perceptions in the situation where learners must navigate in online learning, and where there is little or no face-to-face instruction. While not examined in detail, nor part of the research question, it is not surprising to find no relationship between learning mode and grade point averages is evidenced.
Research limitations/implications – The effects of prior computer literacy and language proficiency across the students used in this study, and potential demographic and experiential differences between on-campus and off-campus students are not controlled for. Additionally, only three business subjects are investigated and it is recognised that there is a need for a broader study. Finally, with response levels to the university-controlled SET that typically range between 20-43 per cent for these large subjects, there is possible non-response bias that it was not possible to counter over the six years involved. Practical implications – The findings in this study suggest that while blended learning offers many benefits to higher education institutions and learners alike, care needs to be taken in the manner in which such approaches are implemented in light of possible negative learner perceptions where a less traditional approach is taken. Originality/value – A major contribution of this study is the fact that experimentation has taken place in terms of the degree of face-to-face and online learning that have been blended in at least one subject (case study two), and the fact that the SET for this subject are compared, longitudinally, with two other subjects which lie on either side of this subject in terms of the extent of online and face-to-face teaching and learning employed – 100 per cent online in case study one and almost 100 per cent face-to-face in case study three.
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