Hult International Business School (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 2734-2742
ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2020.0815
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
Active Blended Learning (ABL) is a pedagogy that promotes teaching “through student-centred activities that support the development of subject knowledge and understanding, independent learning and digital fluency…face-to-face teaching is facilitated in a practical and collaborative manner, clearly linked to learning activity outside the classroom. Opportunities are provided for students to develop autonomy, Changemaker attributes and employability skills” (ILT, 2016). This pedagogy makes use of different teaching and learning activities and mixes teaching styles and methods. Face-to-face and ‘flipped’-style online teaching can be utilised both on and off campus, and the different methods and activities can be organised and integrated with the help of Edtech (digital technologies suited for the classroom).

There has been much interest of late in how pedagogies such as ABL and the flipped classroom (FL) can increase student engagement and learning in higher education (Maxwell & Armellini 2018; Roehling 2019; Vaughan 2014). The existing literature indicates that undergraduate (UG) freshmen (first year students) and students taking general education (GenEd) courses are more resistant to, and less satisfied with, the technique than older students or students studying subjects that they are majoring in (Roehling, 2019). In addition, FL and/or using ABL techniques requires a significant investment in time and effort on the part of already time-pressed faculty.

Our research addresses the above issues by investigating whether the varied toolbox offered by ABL tools and techniques could prove effective and acceptable to UG freshmen/GenEd students and their teachers, particularly when supported by digital tools that assist the design of appropriate in-class activities and assessment procedures. Furthermore, we recognise the importance of including the faculty voice: in order to achieve faculty buy-in, the effectiveness of such changes and the pedagogical benefits need to be assessed and evaluated as thoroughly as possible.

The research that will be presented is from an ongoing exploratory project at the UK campus of an International Business School. As ABL is not a rigid or prescriptive pedagogy, individual faculty at the business school are encouraged to create a unique blend of modes and methods that suits them and their classrooms best. In addition to FL, examples of ABL methods will also include off site learning (museum trips and guided walks) and business simulations. Qualitative and quantitative data will be presented from surveys, interviews and focus groups with approximately 200 UG freshman students and 6 faculty as well as course evaluations and the analysis of student assignments. The presentation will explore student preferences and the extent to which student outputs show evidence of the acquisition of skills such as critical thinking, digital fluency, problem-solving and communication skills. We will also present data from faculty on their thoughts and perceptions of ABL.

The data from the research is being used to assess the extent to which ABL tools and techniques improve student engagement, student learning and student satisfaction in these groups of students. As such, the findings presented will provide valuable information that will inform thinking around the use of ABL and FL in higher education learning and will be of interest to a range of stakeholders including: educators, educational institutions and students.
Active blended learning, blended learning, flipped classroom, flipped learning, undergraduates, student learning, student engagement.