Blended Learning in Higher Education: Exploring Students' Perceptions of Course Design, Pedagogical Approaches, and Use of Technology in an Undergraduate Visual Arts Course
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Arts educators have been experiencing the pressures of current and emerging technologies and technological tools that are transforming the teaching and learning process in visual and performing arts fields in higher education. Literature demonstrates that more studies are needed on the experiences of instructors and students, and the course design choices, implementation, and uses of blended learning in higher education in the creative disciplines. Existing research on blended learning indicates that more studies on student perceptions of blended learning are needed. This qualitative case study investigated an introductory course in art history offered in the blended format to students not majoring in visual arts. I explored three research questions on the types of pedagogical and technological choices the instructor made when designing and teaching the course and the ways in which students responded to these decisions, as well as what aspects of the course were associated with student engagement. In order to investigate these research questions, I interviewed 24 students enrolled in the course, three teaching-assistants (TAs), and the course instructor, I observed face-to-face tutorials, and reviewed the course and tutorial sites in learning management system (LMS). I argue that although students prefer the flexibility that blended course design offers, interaction with the instructor is a significant aspect to maintain student engagement. Innovative means of assessment that is using the social media microblog, Twitter, for one of the assignments engaged students in writing about art and added to their satisfaction in the course. Recommendations and areas for future research are discussed.