Teaching and Learning Career Development Practice: Students’ Perspective of Blended Learning
By Cheryl Jeffs
This research investigated a blended learning format in a career development practice (CDP) program. The primary focus of this study was adult students’ perspectives of and experiences in a blended learning course, compared to traditional courses (face-to-face). Overall, the blended learning format appears beneficial to the students’ learning and development.
“Blended learning is the organic integration of thoughtfully selected and complementary face-to-face and online approaches and technologies”. (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008, p. 148).
Research Design and Methodology
Participants completed the CDP Student Questionnaire (adapted, Vaughan, 2007). The sample included all students who completed two terms of the blended learning course. A total of 70% of the students participated in the study. All participants were adults returning to college studies.
When asked about their experience in the blended learning course, students made the following comments:
- “I discovered more and more, I was surprised and felt confident.”
- “There was time and freedom to explore areas of interest.”
- “The online piece is important to connect students to the reality of online skills being a big part of work, now and in the future.”
Compared to their traditional classes, 100% of the respondents reported an increase in the quality of interaction experienced with the instructor and with their classmates and offered the following comments:
- “I was able to explore ideas and theory at my own pace which increased my studying ability.”
- “I learned to try to figure out things on my own. The instructor was there if needed but it was a good blend of instruction and it enhanced my curiosity and learning.”
- “Relationships were closer among students and camaraderie increased which lead to sharing of learning and a great support system in place.”
100% of the students report they strongly agree or agree they were satisfied with the blended learning course and they would take another blended learning course. Students commented:
- “This was my favourite class ever.”
- “Blended learning is a well balanced approach and connected to the other traditional courses.”
- “I realized the blended learning course was the best part of the program.”
While not asked specifically about the quality of instruction, most students offered comments about the blended learning course instructor. “Amazing really” sums up the general comments. Other students commented the instructor:
- “Was incomparable and I felt lucky to have been in the class.”
- “Created an incredible quality learning experience”“made the learning experience valuable” and was “aware of the learner’s needs”.
An unexpected finding was that several students reported “face-to-face was more memorable and preferable” and that “technology has limitations”.
Discussion & Implications
Overall, the CDP students reported that the blended learning format enhanced their learning experience and development. While the students liked the flexibility of online learning, they also appreciated the structure of the face-to-face contact. Blended learning will continue to be part of the program delivery and will be incorporated into all courses where warranted.
Future research is planned to examine instructors’ and institutional perspectives of blended learning, as well as follow up on the students who participated in this research.
Dr Cheryl L. Jeffs is a member of the Faculty of Child, Family & Community Studies at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC. Her research and teaching interests include: community colleges in BC; teaching & learning; application of learning; educational transitions; continuing education; e-learning; and curriculum design.
- Garrison, D. & Vaughan, N. (2008). Blended learning in higher education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Vaughan, N. (2007). Perspectives on blended learning in higher education. International Journal of E-Learning, 6(1), 81-94.