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Title: A design-based research approach to an educational challenge : developing independent learners using a blended learning environment
Authors: Handyside, Roger Graeme
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: A design-based research approach to an educational challenge: Developing independent learners using a blended learning environment. The transition from school to higher education in the UK has been highlighted as becoming challenging for a number of students. The contrast between the learning experience of students at school and in higher education has been seen as problematic, with supportive small group experiences at school and commonly large impersonal teaching structures at university. Upon entry to higher education, many students are perceived to have a ‘skills deficit’ in those areas important for success. These skills have been summarised in this study under the term ‘independent learning’. This study follows a design research approach into the course re-design of an A level (university entrance) science course. A ‘traditionally’ taught course was re-designed into a blended learning environment, using an open source virtual learning environment. The course design was informed by principles from a variety of sources and underlying theoretical concepts including the Conversational Framework and the Community of Inquiry, emphasising changes in pedagogical approach above technological issues. The research approach followed the main processes of educational design research, however rather than repeat iterations of the same course; the study was structured into developmental stages of progress towards the final blended learning environment. The study employed a mixed methods strategy, including a quantitative measure of self-regulation (MSLQ), a student course evaluation using Q methodology as well as observations, staff and student interviews and course data analysis. The results indicated a significant improvement in self-regulated behaviours according to the MSLQ survey against a non-intervention class. In the course evaluation of the blended learning environment, the students presented into three groups with contrasting attitudes to blending learning; the ‘pragmatists, the enthusiasts and the conservatives’. The study concludes with some principles to guide the design of blended learning courses in order to encourage independent learning, implications for educational policy, and recommendations for further research. These generic design principles emphasise the value of the educational design-research approach as a realistic and effective method for reflective researchers and practitioners.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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