University pedagogy for large groups: possibilities blended and online learning

Research output: Conference materialsAbstractpeer-review


The purpose of this study was to design a mass course of university pedagogy of two different versions: blended and online, and to explore participants' experiences of the courses. The pedagogical principles in the courses were based on constructive alignment and co-operative learning, and aim was to create a learning environment that supported participants’ active learning and meaningful use of online methods. Multidisciplinary peer group work had a central role: positive interdependence between group members was promoted.
The courses included 137 hours work during 10 weeks. Studies consisted of beginning and ending contact sessions, three major assignments and a few smaller assignments. All assignments required to use reading materials, individual and peer group work, and online learning. The sample included 260 participants participating in online (70) or blended courses (190). Participants represented academic staff and PhD students from nine different faculties. Participants' experiences concerning the courses were collected with Learn-questionnaire (experiences in teaching-learning environment), and open-ended questions. Quantitative data was analysed by confirmatory factor analysis and Oneway ANOVA, and qualitative data by inductive content analysis.

Peer support and learning assignments were experienced most positively, while lowest satisfaction was with tutors. Participants' experiences of the course did not differ in group level according to their previous pedagogical studies, type of position, or teaching experience. Blended learning participants experienced contact sessions, tutor support and peer support more positively than the online participants. Both courses were experienced as well-balanced combination of contact sessions, e-learning, and independent learning. The participants experienced that assignments, literature, heterogeneity in peer group members' disciplines and participants' own curiosity, and motivation enhanced learning. For some participants, taking the course online made their participation possible in the first place. Factors experienced impeding learning were tight timetables, confusingly organised course and Moodle e-learning environment, too little interaction with tutors, and problems in peer group interaction. Some participants experienced they had weak motivation, too little background knowledge or rush with other responsibilities.
This study showed that it is possible to design and carry out an effective massive online course in university pedagogy. Structure of the course must give enough individual freedom and foster learning processes by meaningful learning assignments and co-operatively structured peer group work. Heterogeneous peer groups enhanced learning by expanding participants’ thinking of university pedagogy in more general level. Insufficient amount or quality of interaction with tutors, dysfunction of peer groups, and difficulties to create clearly structured e-learning environment are challenges both in blended and online settings.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2018
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventEARLI SIG 4 Conference 2018: Topography of research on higher education: Promoting deep conversations - Giessen, Germany
Duration: 29 Aug 201831 Aug 2018


ConferenceEARLI SIG 4 Conference 2018

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences

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