Academic journal article Research & Teaching in Developmental Education

Internet vs. Classroom Access in a Hybrid Psychology Course for Developmental Students

Academic journal article Research & Teaching in Developmental Education

Internet vs. Classroom Access in a Hybrid Psychology Course for Developmental Students

Article excerpt


A new method in higher education is the hybrid course-one that uses both web based and face to face teaching methods. This study provides data to help developmental educators decide what a good balance between online and in-class activities might be. We explored whether making outside class access to online practice quizzes contingent on course performance helps students be successful. Our data suggests that instructors should give students options but that having contingencies for accessing practice quizzes is effective. We recommend ways that developmental educators can structure their hybrid courses to help students succeed.

Computers have been integrated into college teaching for several decades but early predictions that they were unlikely to replace traditional methods (Daniel, 1985) have generally proved correct. Several years ago, Brothen (1998) pointed out that much of college teaching was dominated by an ancient paradigm that involved instructors presenting information to students-primarily through lectures. He also pointed out that computer technology is often merely used to present information to students-thus reinforcing passivity in them. Brothen recommended that developmental educators break out of this presentational paradigm to transform developmental education in ways to help their students become independent, successful learners. In the new paradigm, computer technology would be used to give students opportunities to practice their developing skills and get feedback on their progress towards mastery (cf. Bloom, 1976).

Twigg (1994a, 1994b, 1994c) made similar recommendations for higher education in general. She called for a new national learning infrastructure in which students would be freed from the rigid time constraints of the traditional academic term to learn more independently and work to test and enhance their learning with each other in cooperative learning communities. Twigg challenged educators to develop a clear vision of what higher education should accomplish in the field of technology-mediated learning and escape Skinner's (1984) pessimistic assessment of education as hopelessly teacher-centered with students expected to develop in lockstep and instructors held prisoner by the traditional lecture method.

The increasing availability and sophistication of online course management systems (CMSs) hold out hope of meeting the goals proposed by Brothen (1998) and Twigg (1994a, 1994b, 1994c). For example, WebCT, one of the most widely used CMSs, advertises on its website ( that "Thousands of colleges and universities in more than 70 countries worldwide [use] WebCT." Research and writing about online CMSs and facilities in which to deliver them has become a truly international endeavor (e.g., Abdelraheem, 2003; Ukigai & Miida, 2000). In addition, rather than using CMSs to deliver only distance education courses, more than three quarters of faculty members use them in face to face courses (Morgan, 2003).

The term for this development in higher education is the hybrid course, a model that uses both web based and face to face teaching methods (Garnham & Kaleta, 2002). This technique is not particularly new (c.f, Brothen, 1992), but to date has not generated a great deal of published research by developmental educators. For example, a search using the Wilson Web search engine for education with the keywords "hybrid, developmental, and education" yielded one article pertaining to developmental education. In that article, Kinney & Robertson (2003) suggested ways that computer technology can be effective with developmental students, including hybrid methods, but did not directly address the issues instructors face in deciding how to deliver hybrid courses. Developmental educators need to know what kinds of activities should be delivered online and what the balance between online and in-class activities should be. Fortunately, discussion of this issue seems to be increasing; four sessions at the 2005 College Reading and Learning Association conference listed hybrid methods as their subject matter. …

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