THE EFFECTIVE BLENDED TUTOR: SUPPORTING ADULT LEARNERS STUDYING PART-TIME, VOCATIONALLY RELEVANT DEGREES AT A DISTANCE
The University of Huddersfield (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:There is limited research into the personal qualities that adult learners value in their tutors within blended learning contexts. This paper takes steps to address this gap. Of significance, the paper considers tutor practices and investigates skills, qualities and competences contributing to their effectiveness. An Andragogical Model is proposed for effective blended learning to meet the needs of adult learners studying part-time, vocationally relevant degrees at a distance. The research is based at a ‘post 1992’ university in the north of England at a time when there was financial constraint and increased marketisation of Higher Education, with other providers, such as Further Education colleges, encouraged to deliver degrees. A mixed methods approach was adopted to conduct a detailed exploration of eight tutors’ practice with data gathered from three principal sources. Interviews with tutors explored their approaches to delivery and considered factors that impacted on quality; students’ perceptions of their learning experiences were assessed using an attitude survey; an analysis of the content and communications in the virtual learning environment provided insight into tutors’ online practice. All the tutors investigated as part of the research were located in the School of Education. The paper argues that the predominant approaches to teaching, learning and assessment adopted by tutors were congruent with some of the Andragogical Model’s six core principles (Knowles et al., 2011) due to the vocational nature of the courses investigated. The Andragogical Model provided an analytical lens and drove the development of the proposed Model for this context, which contains the same six core principles. This analysis was valuable as it provided a number of factors to operationalise the Model, which can support practice for tutors and HE institutions in similar contexts. Further, this analysis highlighted a number of tutor skills, qualities and competences that appeared influential in meeting the needs of adult learners in this context.
Keywords: Blended tutoring, online tutors, adult learning.