Large scale blended learning: An evaluation of the SCHOLAR programme

Authors

  • Philip John Heriot-Watt University
  • Sheila Sim SQW Ltd
  • Marion Morris SQW Ltd

Abstract

Proponents of e-learning approaches, aimed at independent learners or combined with blended learning, for students within secondary and tertiary education have relied on relatively small scale studies to advance their case. The SCHOLAR programme in Scotland is designed for the post compulsory stage of secondary education which includes transforming classroom practice and encouraging independent learning by students. The large- scale programme, including more than 70,000 students, encompasses high quality web materials, revision exercises, formative assessment and feedback facilities and a discussion forum within a learning platform. Key to the success of implementing an effective national programme is convincing teachers of the benefits of blended learning. For this reason, SCHOLAR also supports teachers and learners through professional development and student induction using their experienced peers.
A comparison has been undertaken of the usage of SCHOLAR and Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) examination attainment, at SCQF levels 6 and 7, in the period 2007-08 to 2009-10. The data shows a positive correlation between the intensity of SCHOLAR usage and the grades obtained in SQA examinations, with higher intensity users achieving better results across most of the evaluated subjects. The data also indicates that students who access SCHOLAR in the evenings or at weekends in addition to work in the classroom achieve better examination results than those who solely utilise the e-courseware within the classroom. The use of SCHOLAR is evenly split between the classroom and independent learning.
Focus groups with students suggest that high users are inherently more highly motivated and multivariate regression analysis would be required to delineate the characteristics of the entire programme, including formative assessment, most associated with high attainment.

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