Ghent University (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 7323-7329
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
There is growing research evidence about the impact of eLearning (EL). The rationale for implementing eLearning solutions varies from a focus on flexibility and efficacy to satisfaction parameters. At the same time, the research refers to eLearning as an ingredient in mixed higher education setups, mostly labeled “blended learning” (BL). In BL, EL is mixed with face-to-face (F2F) teaching approaches. As a consequence it is often difficult to come to clear conclusions as to the differential impact of EL versus BL and F2F, due to large differences in the design of the HE setups and related research designs. Therefore, this study focuses on studying the differential impact of BL, F2F and EL while controlling the characteristics of the instructional setting and adopting the same research instruments. Key ingredients were differently controlled/manipulated in each setup: the learning content, the invoked learner activity (guiding questions on paper/online forum) and the lecture/web based lecture approach. Students always studied individually. In addition to the EL and F2F settings, two different BL settings were organized. In BL1, students received the lecture face-to-face, studied the text on paper and solved the guiding questions individually in the online forum. In BL2, students received a web-based lecture, studied the printed reader and solved individually the printed guiding questions at the end of the reader.

Next to learning performance as the key dependent variable, the research focused on the interaction effect of particular variables (self-efficacy beliefs (SE), intrinsic motivation (IM) and perceived flexibility) and co-variables (age, gender). Respondents were second year undergraduate students (n=90), enrolled in the “Invertebrates” course of the School of Education at CanTho (Vietnam). Participants were randomly allocated to one of the four experimental conditions (n F2F=22, n BL1=22, n EL=23, n BL2=23). Student age ranged from 20 to 22 years (M= 20.48, SD= 0.67) and 61.1% of the students were female. The study was set up during the first 6 weeks of the second semester 2014-2015.

Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was applied to study the differential impact of learning in the four conditions on Learning Performance (LP), considering the impact IM, SE, Flexibility, age, and gender.

The results reflect a significant difference in LP after studying in a particular higher education setup [F(3,86) = 9.44, p<.001], R2=22.1. The highest learning performance was observed in BL2. This was significantly higher than F2F ([M-diff=1.368, p=.009] and EL [M-diff=1.978, p=.001]). Though different higher education setups result in significant differences in self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation; these and other variables do not interact significantly with learning performance.

As limitations, the present study can be criticized as to its duration. Also, student and experience with EL approaches should be considered and other student audiences could be involved (e.g., working students, professionals taking HE courses). Based on the present findings, blended learning instruction could be put forward as the most promising alley to enhance students’ learning performance. Replication studies should be set up to reiterate the findings while considering the mentioned limitations, and while studying additional EL-design features; such as collaborative tasks using wikis.
Blended Learning, e-learning, Face-to-Face, Web based Lecture, Learning Performance.