I don’t need peer support: effective tutoring in blended learning environments for part-time, adult learners

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Abstract

Given the rise of social media engagement within society, there are challenges for tutors in blended and online contexts to provide opportunities for social constructivist learning experiences within their institutional learning environments. This article proposes a module approach to teaching, learning and assessment for learners undertaking part-time, vocationally related 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. Analysis of modules suggested limited online peer-to-peer interaction with tutors noting the difficulties of promoting engagement. The article argues for a constructivist approach in this context with a need for tutors to promote a simple module structure, focused around assessment, that creates space for learning. This structure appeared appropriate for these learners, enabling them to manage the influence of daily events, together with pressures and time constraints of work. Further, available tutor support together with assessment as the focus of learner activities outside face-to-face contexts, were associated with module success. The findings could aid tutors in designing and delivering courses for similar groups of learners.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Early online date27 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Dec 2019

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