Monthly Archives: September 2019

The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature

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Submitted by Polina Beloborodova

Article Reference

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., & Baki, M. (2013). The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Teachers College Record, 115(3), 1–47.

Article DOI

Summary of Article

Background:
Earlier research on various forms of distance learning concluded that these technologies do not differ significantly from regular classroom instruction in terms of learning outcomes. However, today the increased capabilities of web-based applications and collaboration technologies and the rise of blended learning models combining web-based and face-to-face classroom instruction have raised expectations for the effectiveness of online learning.

Purpose:
This meta-analysis was designed to produce a statistical synthesis of studies contrasting learning outcomes for either fully online or blended learning conditions with those of face-to-face classroom instruction.

Participants:
The types of learners in the meta-analysis studies were about evenly split between students in college or earlier years of education and learners in graduate programs or professional training. The average learner age in a study ranged from 13 to 44.

Conditions:
The meta-analysis was conducted on 50 effects found in 45 studies contrasting a fully or partially online condition with a fully face-to-face instructional condition. Length of instruction varied across studies and exceeded one month in the majority of them.

Research Design:
The meta-analysis corpus consisted of (1) experimental studies using random assignment and (2) quasi-experiments with statistical control for preexisting group differences. An effect size was calculated or estimated for each contrast, and average effect sizes were computed for fully online learning and for blended learning. A coding scheme was applied to classify each study in terms of a set of conditions, practices, and methodological variables.

Results:
The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. The advantage over face-to-face classes was significant in those studies contrasting blended learning with traditional face-to-face instruction but not in those studies contrasting purely online with face-to-face conditions.

Conclusions & Recommendations:
Studies using blended learning also tended to involve additional learning time, instructional resources, and course elements that encourage interactions among learners. This confounding leaves open the possibility that one or all of these other practice variables contributed to the particularly positive outcomes for blended learning. Further research and development on different blended learning models is warranted. Experimental research testing design principles for blending online and face-to-face instruction for different kinds of learners is needed. The meta-analysis findings do not support simply putting an existing course online, but they do support redesigning instruction to incorporate additional learning opportunities online while retaining elements of face-to-face instruction.

Discussion Questions

  1. In your opinion, how will higher education look like like in 2050? To what degree will it migrate to online? What teaching methods and technologies will we use?
  2. What will be the role of the instructor? What skills should we develop now to fulfil this role in the future?
  3. Coming back to the present, which of VCU technology resources would you like to try in your teaching? How are you going to use it?

Interactive lecturing: review article & pilot study

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Submitted by Polina Beloborodova

Article Reference

Gülpinar, M. A., & Yeğen, B. Ç. (2005). Interactive lecturing for meaningful learning in large groups. Medical Teacher, 27, 590-594.
Snell, Y. S. L. S. (1999). Interactive lecturing: Strategies for increasing participation in large group presentations. Medical Teacher, 21, 37-42.

Article DOI

Summary of Article

(1) Summary of Snell (1999): review of interactive lecturing techniques
Interactive lecturing is a set of techniques aimed at increasing participation of the audience in the lecture:
• Presenter <=> students
• Students <=> material / content
• Students <=> students
New role of teacher: instructor -> facilitator / coach
Why is it good for learning?
• Active involvement
• Increased attention & motivation
• ‘Higher’ level of thinking (analysis, synthesis, application, problem solving, etc.)
• Feedback to teacher & students
• Increased teacher and student satisfaction
Why teachers don’t use it?
• Fear of losing control and covering all material
• Contextual factors (content, physical setting, time constrains, audience)
Techniques:
1. Breaking the class into smaller groups
2. Questioning the audience:
– straightforward questions
– brainstorming
– rhetorical questions
– surveying the class
– quizzes & short answers
3. Using audience responses
4. Using cases & examples
5. Written materials (handouts)
6. Debates, reaction panels, & guests
7. Simulations & role plays
8. Multimedia (video, audio, etc.)
How to get interactive?
• Take risks & overcome fears
• Prepare & practice
• Set clear objectives, cut on material (less is more)
• Prepare students to get involved
• Be flexible, but not too flexible

(2) Summary of Gülpinar and Yeğen (2005): pilot study on interactive lecturing
Aim: to test a ‘structured integrated interactive’ two-hour block lecture
Objectives:
• effects of the prior knowledge on learning & evaluation of the lecture
• effects of well-structured advanced organizer on learning & evaluation
• impact of clinical integration on the comprehension of basic sciences
Lecture outline:
• Using the same template across the lecture: (1) for gradually adding details, (2) for introducing associated pathologies
• Interactive task every 10-15 min
• Using clinical cases with structured evaluations charts
Measures:
1. Pretest: evaluation of prior knowledge (pre-lecture test)
2. Posttest: problem solving skills (performance on cases, evaluated by instructor)
3. Lecture evaluation questionnaire
Sample: 93 students of a large Turkish university
Results:
• Evaluation: 92% successful, mostly positive comments
• Interactivity: 43.9% evaluated as interactive, 35.7% as partially interactive
• Issues: content wasn’t limited, fast pace
• 90% showed acceptable performance on evaluating cases (problem solving)
• Significant correlation (r = .2) of pre-lecture test scores and case scores in one of two topics of the lecture
Conclusions:
• Interactive lecturing facilitates more meaningful in interactive learning in large groups
• Higher order thinking and development of problem solving skills can be achieved to some extent with interactive lecturing
• Prior knowledge is important for learning processes and learning outcomes

Discussion Questions

  1. Which interactive lecturing techniques would work best for the course that you would like to teach in the future? Provide a few examples.

    Summary of discussion:
    – Working in small groups
    – Asking students to repeat what the instructor said a while ago
    – Asking questions
    – Using technology for surveys

  2. Which interactive lecturing techniques would work better for younger audiences? Which ones would be better for older audiences?

    Summary of discussion:
    – It’s not about the choice of techniques, but their adaptation to various audiences (e.g. organizing group work in more structured way for undergraduate students and less structured for graduate students)
    – Other factors to consider: institutional setting (university vs. community college), familiarity with interactive teaching

  3. What are possible negative consequences of interactive lecturing?

    Summary of discussion:
    – Too much interactivity can lead to losses in material covered and can be annoying for the audience
    – Technology has to be checked before the lecture
    – Students may disclose too personal information
    – Lecture may go out of control (e.g. students may start discussing irrelevant topics in groups)
    – Students may give wrong answers and examples