University students' attitudes toward online learning in a blended course

Year: 2013

Author: Zhu, Yue, Au, Wing, Yates, Gregory

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Abstract:
With the wide application of the information and communication technologies, learning in universities has been transformed from traditional mode to the learning mode supported by different online learning tools, such as online or blended learning. Student attitude toward online learning is a critical factor in such a learning environment.
The present study aimed to examine several factors' influence on a group of university students' attitudes toward online learning in a blended course. These factors included course expectations, prior attitudes, prior experiences, self-regulated, and course participation. Moreover, the changes in the students' online learning attitudes were examined by the end of the course and the factors which contributed to the attitude changes were identified.
The research consisted of two phases: phase one ── questionnaire survey of pre- and post-test, the students' weekly reports, the students' online forum contributions, and phase two ── interviews. The factors which could influence the students' attitudes toward online learning and predict their attitude changes were investigated based on the data collected in the phase one. On the other hand, the interviews provided more in-depth and detailed information about the reasons for the students' online learning attitude changes.
One hundred and twenty second-year pre-service teacher education students, who took a blended course in a university in Australia in the first half of 2011, participated in the present study. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected from two phases. The quantitative data from the pre- and post-test, the weekly reports and the online forum contributions were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) and Smart PLS. The qualitative data from the open-ended questions of the post-test questionnaires, the weekly reports and the interviews were analysed through coding and themes.
It was found that the students' attitudes toward online learning by the end of the course could be significantly predicted by their online learning attitudes at the beginning of the course and their motivation in learning. Additionally, it was shown that the students became more positive toward online learning at a significant level by the end of the course. Regarding the attitude changes, the students who were more motivated in learning were found to become more positive toward online learning after taking the course.

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