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"Practise what we preach": a social constructivist approach to blended learning

"Practise what we preach": a social constructivist approach to blended learning

Headington, Rita, Kitchener, Iain, Morgan, Robert ORCID: 0000-0002-7891-2662 and Hales, Alison (2009) "Practise what we preach": a social constructivist approach to blended learning. In: Fourth International Blended Learning Conference: "Engaging Students in the Curriculum", 17-18 Jun 2009, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield.

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This presentation reports on the formal evaluation, through questionnaires, of a new Level 1 undergraduate course, for 130 student teachers, that uses blended learning. The course design seeks to radicalise the department’s approach to teaching, learning and assessment and use students as change agents. Its structure and content, model social constructivist approaches to learning. Building on the student’s experiences of and, reflections on, previous learning, promotes further learning through the support of “able others” (Vygotsky 1978), facilitating and nurturing a secure community of practice for students new to higher education.

The course’s design incorporates individual, paired, small and large group activities and exploits online video, audio and text materials. Course units begin and end with face-to-face tutor-led activities. Online elements, including discussions and formative submissions, are tutor-mediated. Students work together face-to-face and online to read articles, write reflections, develop presentations, research and share experiences and resources. Summative joint assignments and peer assessments emphasise the value of collaboration and teamwork for academic, personal and professional development.

Initial informal findings are positive, indicating that students have engaged readily with course content and structure, with few reporting difficulties accessing or using technology. Students have welcomed the opportunity to work together to tackle readings in a new genre, pilot presentation skills and receive and give constructive feedback to peers. Course tutors have indicated that depth and quality of study are evident, with regular online formative submissions enabling tutors to identify and engage directly with student’s needs, provide feedback and develop appropriately designed distance and face-to-face teaching materials. Pastoral tutors have indicated that students have reported non-engagement of peers, leading to the rapid application of academic or personal support.

Outcomes of the formal evaluation will inform the development of Level 2 and 3 courses and influence the department’s use of blended learning.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: blended learning, social constructivism, case study, VLE, virtual learning environment
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Education
School of Education > Department of Primary Education
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2020 11:14

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