Effective Hybrid Teaching Practices and Impact of Faculty Learning Communities
Concurrent Session 5
This session will share findings of research conducted 1) to identify effective hybrid (blended) teaching practices from the perspective of faculty who teach hybrid courses, and 2) to gauge impact of participation in hybrid faculty learning communities offered for professional development of instructors designing hybrid courses for the first time.
This session will report on a study designed to better understand effective hybrid teaching practices as identified by Oregon State University (OSU) hybrid faculty and to discern the impact of participation in hybrid faculty learning communities.
During the past 6 years, OSU's Hybrid Initiative has offered faculty development to support and successfully scale technology-enhanced learning. OSU now has approximately 300 hybrid course offerings in 10 colleges, and this instructional modality is growing rapidly, with a 35% increase in the number of Corvallis campus hybrid course sections in the past year.
Along with the growth in blended learning in higher education, there is a growing body of research on the efficacy of blended learning and on best practices for classroom teaching and best practices for online teaching. But surprisingly little attention has been paid to identification of effective practices in hybrid teaching per se. McGee and Reis (2012) conducted a meta-analysis of the literature on effective practices in hybrid course design, but very few studies have actually looked at hybrid instructional practice beyond individual courses.
There is a significant gap in the literature —as identified by Halverson, et al. (2014) and Drysdale, et al. (2013)—regarding faculty perceptions of effective hybrid teaching practices. Additionally, many approaches are being used for hybrid faculty development, but there is not widespread evidence for the effectiveness of these practices as it pertains to designing and teaching hybrid courses (Ginsberg & Ciabocchi, 2013).
This study asked: 1) What do OSU hybrid course faculty identify as effective hybrid teaching practices? 2) What differences exist between faculty who have participated in a hybrid faculty learning community and faculty have not participated in such a learning community in regard to identifying effective teaching practices, and in regard to self-assessment regarding competencies related to hybrid course design and delivery?
Through a review of the blended learning literature, the study authors developed a list of 22 teaching practices that have been cast as “effective” or “best” practices for hybrid teaching in higher ed. In October 2016, an online survey was distributed to all faculty who taught hybrid courses on the OSU Corvallis and Cascades campuses between Fall 2012—when an institutional hybrid course type was first instituted—and Spring term 2016. The resulting survey gathered hybrid faculty input on which of the 22 practices the faculty have used and how effective each of the practices is in fostering student learning in hybrid courses.
The survey also asked respondents to assess their competencies in 5 areas related to design and delivery of hybrid courses. These 5 competencies are the explicit learning outcomes of OSU’s hybrid faculty learning communities, and thus the self-assessment of survey participants on these competencies was analyzed as a way of comparing learning community alumni from those who had not participated in a learning community:
- I can describe recognized effective practices for design and delivery of a hybrid course, for example, methods to foster student engagement in a blended learning environment.
- I can design a hybrid course syllabus and develop course content that employs effective practices for blended learning, such as techniques to integrate online and face-to-face learning activities and materials.
- I can identify OSU resources—including the Center for Teaching and Learning, Technology Across the Curriculum—and other online resources—such as the Online Learning Consortium and MERLOT—to support hybrid course development and delivery.
- I can recognize and apply policies/procedures applicable to hybrid course development and delivery, such as standards for online course site functionality.
- I can employ fundamental features of the Canvas learning management system for course delivery, for example, posting announcements and facilitating online discussions.
Twenty-eight faculty completed the online survey. Of the 22 teaching practices assessed in the survey, 16 practices have been used by more than 80% of the respondents. The survey participants were asked to rate the effectiveness on a 5-point scale from “not effective at all” to “extremely effective” for each of the 22 teaching practices that they have personally used. More than 75% of the respondents rated each of the following 11 practices as “very effective” or “extremely effective” in fostering student learning in a hybrid course:
- Student-to-student interaction in both classroom and online environments
- Lectures of less than 15 minutes interspersed with other class activities
- Prompt and specific feedback given on assessments (e.g., quizzes, papers, projects)
- Real-world applications to connect theory to practice
- Active learning (e.g., think-pair-share, problem-solving exercises, group work)
- Group activities that have both an in-class and out-of-class component
- Learning activities outside of class prepare students to participate in class meetings
- Online content/learning activities referred to during face-to-face meetings to reinforce
- Student-to-instructor interaction in both the classroom and online environments
- Integration between classroom and online learning environments
- Classroom discussions
The survey found a slight but significant higher level of use of the 22 effective practices by instructors who had participated in a hybrid faculty learning community than by those who had not participated in this professional development.
Seventy-three percent of survey respondents have participated in a hybrid faculty learning community. The survey asked respondents to rate themselves on a scale of 1 (completely unable) to 5 (extremely able) regarding the five competencies that are explicit learning outcomes of each learning community. For each competency, the mean self-rating of learning community alumni was, on average, one point higher than those instructors who have not participated in a learning community.
Conclusions and Implications
The survey found a significant degree of hybrid faculty agreement on the use and effectiveness of numerous blended teaching practices, particularly practices that involve active learning and practices that integrate learning in online and classroom environments. This research suggests that 11 specific teaching practices are worthy of broad consideration in hybrid teaching.
The survey also provided evidence that instructors who have participated in hybrid faculty learning communities use more of the literature-identified effective hybrid teaching practices, and that they have a greater sense of their competencies regarding hybrid course design and delivery. The research provides support for the positive impact of hybrid faculty learning communities.
The researchers will also share survey findings regarding the interests of hybrid faculty in further professional development, and the impact of teaching hybrid courses on the overall teaching practices in any modality (face-to-face, blended or fully online).
In addition to sharing survey results and analysis, the presenters will engage audience members in discussion of 1) hybrid teaching practices, 2) faculty professional development for hybrid teaching, and 3) the applicability of these survey findings to their own institutions. This will be an opportunity for participants to share and compare their individual and institutional practices regarding blended pedagogy and faculty development to advance hybrid course design and teaching.
Learning Outcomes and Takeaways
After participation in this session, audience members will be able to describe the most effective hybrid teaching practices as identified by Oregon State University hybrid faculty. Participants will also be able to apply the findings of this research to their own institutional programs for faculty development around blended course design, development and delivery.
Drysdale, J.S., Graham, C.R., Spring, K.J., & Halverson, L.R. (2013). An analysis of research trends in dissertations and theses studying blended learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 17, 90-100. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.11.003
Ginsberg, A.P & Ciabocchi, E. (2013). Growing your own blended faculty: A review of current faculty development practices in traditional, not-for-profit higher education institutions. Picciano, A. G., Dziuban, C. D., & Graham, C. R. (Eds.), Blended learning: research perspectives (Vol. 2) (pp. 190-202). Routledge.
Halverson, L.R., Graham, C.R., Spring, K.J., Drysdale, J.S., & Henrie, C.R. (2014). A thematic analysis of the most highly cited scholarship in the first decade of blended learning research. The Internet and Higher Education, 20, 20-34. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2013.09.004
McGee, P., & Reis, A. (2012). Blended course design: A synthesis of best practices. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(4), 7-22. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ982678