MyNotes - Good Practice in Hybrid Courses

Fascinating findings regarding "good practice" in hybrid courses. My favorite was the listing of Chickering and Gamson's 7 principles of good practice:

  1. contact between faculty and students, 
  2. cooperation among students, 
  3. active learning, 
  4. prompt feedback, 
  5. time on tasks, 
  6. high expectations of students, and 
  7. respect for diverse student learning styles

This translates into the following for hybrid courses:

  1. provide clear guidelines for interactions with students; 
  2. create well-designed discussion assignments that require participation, engagement, and feedback; 
  3. require student-presented projects; 
  4. provide feedback on both assignments and inquiries; 
  5. establish deadlines; 
  6. communicate high expectations through challenging assignments and praise; and 
  7. allow students to express their own interests and points of view by choosing project topics.

JOLT - Journal of Online Learning and Teaching
    • MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching
      • Vol. 6, No. 4, December 2010
        • Constructing Communication in Blended Learning Environments: Students' Perceptions of Good Practice in Hybrid Courses
          • Stephanie Babb
            • Cynthia Stewart
              • Ruth Johnson
                • Distance learning includes courses that are taught at satellite campuses, through instructional television, as hybrid courses, and fully online. In the 2000-2001 academic year, 89% of 4-year public institutions offered some form of distance learning (Tallent-Runnels et al., 2006).
                  • During the 2006-2007 academic year, the percentage of distance education courses offered remained unchanged, but the percentage of hybrid courses increased from 35% to 64% (NCES, 2008). 
                  • Another study reported that professors, already using blended learning, expected to offer more than 40% of their courses in the blended format by the year 2013 (Bonk & Kim, 2006).
                    • hybrid, or blended, courses are a combination of online and traditional, face-to-face courses. The goal of hybrid courses is often to combine quality features of traditional classroom teaching with quality features of online courses in order to promote active, independent learning and reduce time in the classroom (Aycock, Garnham, & Kaleta, 2002)
                      • online and hybrid educators recognize the importance of creating a learning environment that fosters interaction, dialogue, and mentoring in an effort to produce learning outcomes similar to those in traditional courses.
                        • both students and professors have to learn how to have meaningful online communication.
                          • a well-designed hybrid course (Oblinger & Hawkins, 2006), which should foster a collaborative learning environment that encourages students' interactions with the course content, the professor, and fellow classmates (Hostetter & Busch, 2006)
                            • A study found that, when compared with traditional courses, the hybrid delivery mode can result in higher grades and improved learning outcomes (Dowling, Godfrey, & Gyles, 2003), as well as students' perceptions of greater learning and motivation (Leh, 2002; Riffell & Sibley, 2003).
                              • Students in hybrid courses also feel a stronger sense of community with their classmates and professor when compared with both traditional and online students (Rovai & Jordan, 2004)
                                • A sense of community, which is measured by students' perceptions of connectedness and learning, has been repeatedly shown to be important in the process of learning (Chavis, Hogge, McMillan, & Wandersman, 1986; McMillan & Chavis, 1986; Riger & Lavrakas, 1981; Sarason, 1974),
                                  • A sense of community has been found to be influenced by the attitude of the instructor and the environment created by classmates (Tebben, 1995), as well as interactive online tools (Baym, 1995; Dede, 1996; Reid, 1995; Rheingold, 1993). Recently, Wighting (2006) reported that students named connectedness with peers as the most important variable in developing a sense of community.
                                    • reduced social cues, such as tone of voice and facial expressions, could cause misunderstandings that negatively affect learning. Other weaknesses include student computer literacy, limitations of technology, and technological inexperience of the instructor.
                                      • Benchmarking is a method for developing requirements and standards in e-learning and thereby measuring performance (Oliver, 2005).
                                        • even principles of good practice in undergraduate education, which includes contact between faculty and students, cooperation among students, active learning, prompt feedback, time on tasks, high expectations of students, and respect for diverse student learning styles. More than half of the benchmarks involve effective professor-student and student-student interaction.
                                          • distance instructors: provide clear guidelines for interactions with students; create well-designed discussion assignments that require participation, engagement, and feedback; require student-presented projects; provide feedback on both assignments and inquiries; establish deadlines; communicate high expectations through challenging assignments and praise; and allow students to express their own interests and points of view by choosing project topics.
                                            • According to Pelz (2004), social presence can be: affective, in which students express emotions and feelings; interactive, which occurs when students effectively comprehend others' responses; and cohesive, which results in a sense of commitment and belonging. Studies have found positive correlations between social presence and satisfaction with both the course and the professor (Richardson & Swan, 2003).
                                              • Teaching presence involves frequent and effective interaction between the student and professor (Mandernach, Gonzales, & Garrett, 2006). Teaching presence can be created in three ways: through facilitation of discussion by both the student and the professor; through direct instruction by the professor; or through instructional design (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000).
                                                • Immediacy is related to presence in that it refers to verbal and nonverbal behaviors that create interaction and a feeling of closeness (Gorham, 1988; Hutchins, 2003; Meharabian, 1969). Students should perceive a small social distance between the professor and the student and this can be accomplished through use of humor and encouragement in online and traditional interactions, and eye contact and hand gestures in the traditional classroom (Gorham, 1988). Moreover, Woods and Baker (2004) state that, "the integration of verbal and non-verbal immediacy communication behaviors lets professors move from mere interaction to authentic intimacy and interpersonal closeness" (p. 2).
                                                  • Because professor-student interaction is correlated with learning and achievement (Bernard et al., 2004), it is important to provide prompt and effective feedback to students who have less traditional class time.
                                                    • prompt responses to student questions, clear communication about assignments, high expectations for student performance, and professor immediacy are important features of professor-student feedback in hybrid courses.
                                                      • this study found that students' perceived satisfaction and performance in hybrid courses was predicted using the benchmarks for course design and delivery (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). The findings bolster previous research by demonstrating the applicability of using the benchmarks to evaluate hybrid courses (Grant & Thornton, 2007). Specifically, user-friendly websites which increase student involvement, house well-designed assignments, provide a forum for faculty–student communication, build a community of learners, and have a mechanism for providing prompt feedback and communicating high expectations were noted as good practices in hybrid instruction.
                                                        • findings suggested that students involved in active learning were less likely to withdraw from courses and more likely to be satisfied with their education and graduate from college.
                                                          • Students' evaluations of course design also predicted students' perceptions of course delivery (Shea et al., 2005),
                                                            • Course delivery was defined by a faculty member's ability to communicate high expectations, provide prompt, helpful feedback, establish immediacy and presence, and create a forum for a community of learners.
                                                              • students who thought that the assignments were interesting also believed that their professors communicated high expectations of their performance.
                                                                • Students who had fun completing the course activities also experienced positive interactions with their professors, and students who easily navigated the website and thought that the online content supplemented the in-class portion of the course experienced positive interactions with their classmates.
                                                                  • professors who communicated high expectations also provided students with helpful online materials and notes, and professors who posted helpful online assignments also communicated high expectations of their students.
                                                                    • It follows that faculty who use rubrics, are responsive to student emails, and provide helpful responses to student questions will limit the amount of time that students waste trying to interpret assignments. Clear and effective feedback has been associated with improved student performance and satisfaction (Mandernach et al., 2006); however, this study did not substantiate those findings, perhaps because student perceptions of performance were assessed rather than direct measures of performance such as grades.
                                                                      • faculty who communicated high expectations, but also communicated confidence in their students' abilities to meet those expectations, had students who were more satisfied with their performance, despite the fact that they expected lower grades in their courses.
                                                                        • Those currently teaching hybrid courses or faculty who intend to teach hybrid courses should employ the benchmarks when designing their hybrid class, as this research and previous studies have demonstrated the utility of the benchmarks in predicting student learning outcomes and satisfaction.
                                                                          • faculty should design courses to provide students with ample opportunity to converse online about the material as students' satisfaction was related to positive interactions with classmates.
                                                                            • professor communications should be timely, effective, and express high expectations of student performance.
                                                                              • This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike License


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