HyFlex Participation – Once again, graduate students attend class in-person most of the time

Originally posted on January 5, 2011 by Brian Beatty

Another semester ends and more data is gathered on HyFlex participation. This semester, I had only one fully HyFlex course section, with a starting n=19 students. Most students finished the course very successfully, no matter which way they attended week by week.

At the end of the semester, four students did not complete the entire course. Two withdrew during the semester, and two received Incomplete grades. The two who received incomplete grades did complete the majority of the assigned work, but stopped short of completing their final projects. Both plan to finish next semester working independently, and will be invited to participate in the new section of the course running in Spring 2011.

The data on participation is consistent with what I’ve observed in my graduate courses during the past four years. When looking at the data for those who completed the course (n=15), 64% of the time these students attended class in person, 26% of the time these students attended class online (either asynchronously or synchronously), and 10% of the time they chose not to attend class in any mode. I’ve observed the same general pattern in each semester: ITEC graduate students prefer attending class in person.

This consistent pattern is one major reason why we choose to use HyFlex courses rather than fully online courses … to serve our students best, we want to provide a socially stimulating environment, not only because we believe this content (instructional design and technology topics) is learned well in a social environment, but also because the students like attending classes in person. We don’t want to give that up.

Yet we also want to serve the legitimate learning needs of our students who cannot attend class in person, or who prefer to learn differently … even (gasp!) independently! As a seasoned educator (not yet old :)) I have learned repeatedly that the “best” way to learn something is [almost] never “best” for every student, even when students or content appear homogeneous. So even though I may believe that a socially active environment is a good place to learn within (and it probably is so for much of our content), there may be other environments that are just as effective for some students, some of the time.

Using HyFlex courses allows us to offer legitimate options for students, so they have the power to choose their participation mode? Is this really important? For some students, yes … for others, maybe not so much. Is it something valuable? Yes. Even my students who come to class every week tell me they value the option of completing class in an alternative mode if needed or desired. They perceive value even though they don’t exercise the option to learn online in one or more weeks.

And that may be one of the more meaningful results of this whole innovation … giving control over some of the decisions on how to learn to the students, breaking part of the tyranny of the typical professor. Food for thought as we enter a new year …

For a historical summary of participation patterns observed in graduate education at SF State, review beatty_hyflex_participation_aect_2007

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