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Students Satisfaction on Blended Learning a Preliminary Study

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ABSTRACT This paper highlights students’ satisfaction towards blended learning in a tertiary course in Malaysia. Since it is a relatively new area in the Malaysian education system, there is a scarcity of research in this related field. The aim of this study is to examine the students’ perception of the blended learning approach conducted in a course in a Malaysian university and to examine future directions in the application of blended learning. A one-to-one interview was conducted with 13 respondents who were chosen for this study. The results indicated more negative than positive responses. However, this should not hinder further implementation of blended learning. This study also discusses several recommendations in this paper. Keywords: Blended learning, students’ perception, future directions
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  Pertanika J. Soc. Sci. & Hum. 21 (3): 1119 - 1131 (2013) ISSN: 0128-7702 © Universiti Putra Malaysia Press SOCIAL SCIENCES & HUMANITIES Journal homepage: http://www.pertanika.upm.edu.my/  Article history: Received: 26 September 2011Accepted: 24 September 2012ARTICLE INFO  E-mail addresses : rose007jbondjr@yahoo.com (Roslina, A. T.), n_shaminah@yahoo.com (Nur Shaminah, M. K.), teohsian@salam.uitm.edu.my (Sian-Hoon, T.) * Corresponding author  Students’ Satisfaction on Blended Learning: A Preliminary Study Roslina, A. T.*, Nur Shaminah, M. K. and Sian-Hoon, T.  Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Section 17, Intec, 40200 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia ABSTRACT This paper highlights students’ satisfaction towards blended learning in a tertiary course in Malaysia. Since it is a relatively new area in the Malaysian education system, there is a scarcity of research in this related eld. The aim of this study is to examine the students’  perception of the blended learning approach conducted in a course in a Malaysian university and to examine future directions in the application of blended learning. A one-to-one interview was conducted with 13 respondents who were chosen for this study. The results indicated more negative than positive responses. However, this should not hinder further implementation of blended learning. This study also discusses several recommendations in this paper.  Keywords:  Blended learning, students’ perception, future directions communication (CMC). It provides an environment for various opportunities, such as interaction among instructor and students, independent of time and place,  besides facilitating the interaction with content. In recent years, Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, My Space, and Facebook have been extensively integrated in the teaching and learning process for the delivery of educational content in various elds, such as dentistry (Salajan & Mount, 2012) and English Language (Warschauer, 2000). Sikora and Carrol (2002) conducted a comparison between fully online learning and traditional face-to-face learning, but the INTRODUCTION There are benets of using online learning in many educational courses (Mat, 2000). The major advantage of using technological instructional tools such as online discussion has been widely recognised (Hanna & De  Nooy, 2003; Shanaa, 2009). Berge (1995) introduced the use of computer-mediated  Roslina, A. T., Nur Shaminah, M. K. and Sian-Hoon, T. 1120 Pertanika J. Soc. Sci. & Hum. 21 (3): 1119 - 1131 (2013) result showed that students who engaged in online learning did not differ in their levels of satisfaction compared with those who engaged in traditional learning approaches. The students who engaged in online learning liked to participate in the learning, but the level of satisfaction was not signicantly different compared to the level of satisfaction of students who used traditional methods. This was due to reasons like lacking in computer skills, poor quality of online discussion, lack of participation among learners and discussion content that was too  broad (Wood, 2010). There were indications that the integration of the technological tools in traditional teaching and learning was an alternative approach to foster students’ competencies in learning (Shanaa, 2009). Integrated modes of learning based on different learning environments combining face-to-face learning and online learning is called blended learning.Blended learning as a concept arose due to the weaknesses and advantages of online and traditional learning approaches. Students who learn in a blended learning environment involve themselves in classroom lessons and also online learning (Tabor, 2007; Farahiza, 2010). Kim (2007) dened blended learning as “the mixing of traditional face-to-face approach with online approach” and Singh (2003) defined blended learning as the combination of two delivery methods, traditional and online learning methods, designed in such a way as to complement or  blend with one another to promote learning upbringing.Blended Learning incorporates online learning, or as it is commonly known, learning management system (LMS). Many universities in Malaysia have their own LMS. For example, University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) uses SalMas, Multimedia University (MMU) uses MMLS and University Tun Abdul Razak (UniTAR) uses VOISS in their blended learning courses (Goi & Ng, 2009). In Univerisity Teknologi MARA (UiTM), the LMS that is used for blended learning is known as iLearn. Since blended learning is relatively new to UiTM, this study aims to determine students’ satisfaction in using blended learning in UiTM. Student satisfaction is important in higher learning institutions since it influences students’ response to their learning and impacts their decisions whether or not to remain in their eld of study (Roberts & Styron, 2011). Student satisfaction is dened as a certain level of expectations and experiences of a subject or course (Macquarie & Macquarie, 2010). Another denition of student satisfaction is a subjective evaluation of various outcomes and experiences gained based on the students’ participation in learning and their campus life (Elliott & Shin, 2002). Universities are paying serious attention to low satisfaction among students because it may give universities a negative image and indirectly affect enrolment at that particular university. This is one of the reasons why student satisfaction has received so much attention recently in academic literature. In terms of blended learning courses, it is important to determine student satisfaction  Students’ Satisfaction on Blended Learning: A Preliminary Study 1121 Pertanika J. Soc. Sci. & Hum. 21 (3): 1119 - 1131 (2013) in using LMS as lower expectations may cause students to discontinue the use of .Therefore, this study focusses on student satisfaction towards blended learning that is  being used in tertiary education in Malaysia. The study was held in University Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Shah Alam and the targeted students were Master’s students who use blended learning. Interviews were conducted as the main method of this study. BACKGROUND OF STUDY Blended learning is one effort by educators to promote effective learning strategies in higher education. Blended learning  programmes as conducted in different universities vary. However, the programmes are based on a common framework. One of the common frameworks for a blended learning programme is Khan’s Octagonal Framework (Singh, 2003). Many higher-learning institutions use this framework as a guide or plan to come up with blended learning programmes in their respective organisations. However, this contradicts what Martyn (2003) has put forth. According to Martyn, there is no structure or framework in blended learning. Thus, it is important to organise a structure which can be accepted  by the respective learners. In addition, there is limited research conducted that contributes to the knowledge of blended learning. Nevertheless, some reports indicate that the reasons that many students do not prefer to use blended learning may include insufcient scaffolding; the server is not always accessible; problems with internet connectivity; it is time consuming; server inconsistencies; tools interaction and stabilities (Blended Learning Institute for Quality Management, 2009). Currently, educators in UiTM use theblended learning approach in some of the programmes and in some of the courses offered by the university. Since blended learning is new to the education system in Malaysia, not many studies have been conducted to investigate the challenges that can be faced by students who engage in  blended learning. Student satisfaction can reect the challenges faced by students in the blended learning environment. One study that surveyed these challenges was done  by Zhang et al  . (2011). They investigated student satisfaction in order to explore the challenges students faced in blended learning. It is crucial to determine student satisfaction in using blended learning; here, the challenges are highlighted for further improvement and refinement of blended learning programmes.One of the main challenges in blended learning is the participation of students in the online activity. Despite putting up announcements reminding students to contribute, there are still students who contribute the minimum level of work or who do not contribute at all. Zhu et al  . (2009) commented that participation rates differ between different cultural groups in e-learning. The cultural background of a learner shapes his or her values, perceptions and goals and response towards e-learning and blended learning. Zhu et al  . (2009) further stated that American students performed  better than their Chinese coursemates in an  Roslina, A. T., Nur Shaminah, M. K. and Sian-Hoon, T. 1122 Pertanika J. Soc. Sci. & Hum. 21 (3): 1119 - 1131 (2013) online learning environment. The Chinese students preferred the teacher-centred approach and they seemed to be more silent, passive, diligent and formal despite  possessing sufcient computer skills. On the other hand, the American students seemed to be more confident and accustomed to student–centred online-learning.Sometimes, participation does not differ not because of cultural inuences, but for other reasons such as finding the topics in the forum boring or simply preferring the conventional face-to-face approach. Pape (2010) stressed that not all students may feel comfortable with new learning environments and may prefer lecturers to hand-feed them what they need to learn, instead of finding information for themselves. Brandon (2004) believes that a constructive learning environment should provide a supportive and motivating environment in which learners support each other by providing ideas on certain issues, nd solutions to problems and interact with coursemates and lecturers. Collaborative or cooperative learning  plays an integral part of student learning nowadays as the role of the lecturer moves towards facilitating rather than providing information. Dillenbourg (1999) believed that theoretical inuences of collaborative learning mainly draw on social-cultural theory put forward by Vygotsky. Vygotsky suggested that social interaction is important for learning because higher mental functions such as reasoning, comprehension and critical thinking srcinate in social interaction among peers. In order for groups to cooperate, all members must  participate actively by contributing ideas and constructive feedbacks. Unfortunately, this sort of situation does not happen all the time when e-learning is concerned as  part of integrated learning. Allan (2007) stressed that students will participate in online activities if they feel that the activities are of benet to them. As discussed above, some students simply nd the topic boring and contribute only the minimum required in order to pass the module. As stated by Wood (2010), some students consider e-learning activities as “page turners” or “a little boring”. Sometimes, when there is an individual sharing knowledge in the forum, there seemed to be no comments or constructive feedback from the others in the group. When these sorts of scenarios arise, it reects one-way learning. To overcome such  problems, it is the lecturer’s role to remind students to contribute to online discussions. Another problem is that some students find that the topics beings discussed are criticised but no solutions or alternatives are  provided,. unlike face-to-face interaction, where the lecturer not only provides a topic for discussion, but also becomes an active moderator at the time of discussion. This is supported by Gunawardena, Plass and Salisbury (2001) who commented that when a lecturer decided to implement online learning alongside face-to-face interaction, it required a heavy time commitment from the lecturer-cum-online instructor. Thorne (2003) states that blended learning can be a problem unless the individual’s irresponsible provides
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