A tool to support adult learners in blended learning environments
By Silke Vanslambrouck, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
Blended adult learners are heterogeneous which causes a one-size-fits-all-educational-approach to be inappropriate. It is neither realisable for teachers to individualise the learning environment for every learner. Additionally, the separation in time and place between teachers and learners makes it challenging for teachers to observe their learners and provide tailored support. A range of studies are conducted to generate content for a tool that aims to inform teachers about who their learners are, how they learn and how to support them.
Three completed studies showed that most adults did not choose for a blended approach and value their education because it is useful to get a new job, for example. They did not attribute values to the concept of blended learning but do appreciate the benefits such as the flexibility. Regarding the adult learners’ self-regulation, research results indicate that adults mostly stick to ‘old school’ ways of learning by, for example, printing their syllabus when learning. Adults experience difficulties with online learning and prefer personal contacts to seek help. They neither motivate themselves but depend on external motivators. Further research demonstrated three self-regulation profiles among adult learners and showed that the learners’ attainment and utility value attributed to their education were predictive for their profile membership. Currently, a study is being conducted that explores the effects motivation and self-regulation on the persistence and performance of learners. This generates information on which learners need more or less support.
Encouraging online interaction, enhancing learners’ skills regarding online organization and help-seeking, supporting time planning activities and integrating online motivational prompts are examples of general tips that will be integrated and concretized in the tool. The tool explores the motivation and self-regulation of learners and informs about the most appropriate support for that individual.
Silke graduated in 2011 as a teacher in primary education and in 2014 as a master in pedagogical sciences. Now, she is doing a PhD on the quality of online and blended learning from the perspective of adult learners. Self-regulation and motivation are central factors in her research. She was awarded the Best Poster Award at the EAPRIL2017 Conference for her poster presenting her work on this tool development for blended learning environments.