ArticlePDF Available

The Role of Blended Modality in Enhancing Active Learning Strategies in Higher Education: A Case Study of a Hybrid Course of Oral Production and Listening of French

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Learning oral skills in an Arabic speaking environment is challenging. A blended course (material, activities, and individual/ group work tasks …) was implemented in a module of level B1 for undergraduate students of French as a foreign language in order to increase their opportunities to practice listening and speaking skills. This research investigates the influence of this modality on enhancing active learning and examines the effectiveness of provided strategies. Moreover, it aims at discovering how it allows teacher to flip the traditional classroom and create a learner-centered framework. Which approaches were integrated to motivate students and urge them to search, analyze, criticize, create and accomplish projects? What was the perception of students? This paper is based on the qualitative findings of a questionnaire and a focus group interview with learners. Despite the doubled time and effort both “teacher” and “student” needed, results revealed that the NTIC allowed a shift into a learning paradigm where learners were the “chiefs” of the process. Tasks and collaborative projects required higher intellectual capacities from them. Learners appreciated this experience and developed new life-long learning competencies at many levels: social, affective, ethical and cognitive. To conclude, they defined themselves as motivated young researchers, motivators and critical thinkers. Keywords—Active learning, critical thinking, inverted classroom, learning paradigm, problem-based.
Content may be subject to copyright.
AbstractLearning oral skills in an Arabic speaking
environment is challenging. A blended course (material, activities,
and individual/ group work tasks …) was implemented in a module
of level B1 for undergraduate students of French as a foreign
language in order to increase their opportunities to practice listening
and speaking skills. This research investigates the influence of this
modality on enhancing active learning and examines the effectiveness
of provided strategies. Moreover, it aims at discovering how it allows
teacher to flip the traditional classroom and create a learner-centered
framework. Which approaches were integrated to motivate students
and urge them to search, analyze, criticize, create and accomplish
projects? What was the perception of students? This paper is based
on the qualitative findings of a questionnaire and a focus group
interview with learners. Despite the doubled time and effort both
“teacher” and “student” needed, results revealed that the NTIC
allowed a shift into a learning paradigm where learners were the
“chiefs” of the process. Tasks and collaborative projects required
higher intellectual capacities from them. Learners appreciated this
experience and developed new life-long learning competencies at
many levels: social, affective, ethical and cognitive. To conclude,
they defined themselves as motivated young researchers, motivators
and critical thinkers.
KeywordsActive learning, critical thinking, inverted
classroom, learning paradigm, problem-based.
I. INTRODUCTION
N Palestine, universities promote the integration of ICT.
An- Najah National University is a leading university that
aims at enhancing the quality of education on many levels.
Using new technology is an adopted tool by the E-Learning
Center, at An-Najah National University in Nablus, to create
an educational environment including blended learning,
recorded lectures, and many others that facilitate the use of
various smart learning methods.
The purpose of this study is to find out how the blended
learning modality enhances the active learning of students in a
course of oral comprehension and expression of French
language. It sought simultaneously to discover the role played
by the technology and social media in this experience.
It is a course of listening and oral expression skills of
French as a foreign language (FFL). This is an obligatory
course for Arab Palestinian students having already obtained
Tharwat N. Hijjawi is with the An-Najah National University, Palestine (e-
mail: h_tharwat@najah.edu).
the A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for
Languages (CEFR) level of FFL; it combines face-to-face
classes and the online designed material. Learners had to take
responsibility of what is designed online using Moodle as a
principal platform with the company of other communication
and collaboration tools like Trello, Padlet and Facebook [1].
These online implements aimed at flipping the teaching
process into a learning one [2], [3].
First, it was primordial to plan well the online material. The
Hybrid model allowed a flipping of classroom which is an
“instructional strategy”, that helps teachers limit “direct”
lecturing in class and thus enhance the “one-to-one
interaction” [4]. In the concerned course, this method is
supported by a socio-constructivist approach, where learning
is viewed as the cognitive construction that allows learner to
develop contacts with the surrounding environment, create
interactions with the real world, and thus conceive knowledge
[5].
The learner, depending on his mental activity, constructs
knowledge. It is built up through thinking of his own
experience [6]. Activities provided online to students contain
various interactive language tasks permitting “participants to
have opportunities to learn from their own and each other’s
experiences, being actively and personally engaged in the
process” [7].
II. CONTEXT
French Oral Skills 2 (listening and Expression) is an
obligatory course for Second year students of French B.A. in
the French department at An-Najah National University (Fig.
1). It is a blended course using Moodle as the main
pedagogical platform. In addition, students used a group page
on Facebook, Padlet, and Trello.
On Moodle, various authentic resources for the language
were provided with clear instructions. Students had to
accomplish thoroughly the objectives of each week. Their job
was to discover themes and subjects proposed online before
coming to class and discuss the result of their work. The
teacher’s talk time was reduced allowing more learning
conversations [8]. For certain topics, students had to work
together in small groups, share tasks and organize their
teamwork according to time. Integrating ICT intended to
empower learners with the needed tools to be main actors and
The Role of Blended Modality in Enhancing Active
Learning Strategies in Higher Education: A Case
Study of a Hybrid Course of Oral Production and
Listening of French
Tharwat N. Hijjawi
I
World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology
International Journal of Educational and Pedagogical Sciences
Vol:12, No:6, 2018
751International Scholarly and Scientific Research & Innovation 12(6) 2018 ISNI:0000000091950263
Open Science Index, Educational and Pedagogical Sciences Vol:12, No:6, 2018 publications.waset.org/10009133/pdf
authors of their own learning [9]. This system depended on a
differentiated pedagogy, letting students work with a self-
paced rhythm and individualized paths of learning [10].
Fig. 1 Home page of the course on Moodle
III. METHODS
The study is based on a qualitative methodology to collect
data, the researcher used a semi directed questionnaire, a focus
group interview with learners who went through this
experience in the first semester 2016- 2017. This method is
selected since it allows a flexibility in the process and in the
choice of instruments that must be adapted according to the
situation and the research. Consequently, the researcher
achieves a better understanding of the experience of the study
subjects [11].
Content analysis of the verbal and interactive group
communication of participants is used. This analysis allows
the researcher not only to analyze the elements declared by
students, but it also makes it possible to analyze what is not
said and hidden between the lines [12].
A survey was conducted online, using Google Forms.
Fourteen out of 15 learners had participated and answered the
questionnaire. The same individuals joined the focus group.
Data, collected from the focus group, included the audio of the
participants and written notes taken by the researcher who
moderated the interview [13].
The questionnaire examined these principal elements to
discover students’ perspective of the employed strategies and
their involvement in the learning process:
1. Student commitment all through the course; their
motivation and interest; faced challenges and difficulties;
and their critics.
2. Communication and interaction between learners
themselves, and between the learners and their teacher.
3. Evolution of their role and effectiveness of the blended
modality?
Through the focus group, the researcher looked for the
keywords expressed by the participating learners while they
answer a central question about their new experience of
learning French via the online course next to the face-to-face
sessions. Both instruments were conducted in their own
language, Arabic. Using their mother tongue facilitates their
expression of thoughts and point of view illuminating any
lingual obstacle that may appear using English or French.
IV. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The results revealed four main findings, taking in
consideration the three principal axes we focused on in our
quest.
Regarding the first axe is the student’s commitment all
through the course; their motivation and interest; faced
challenges and difficulties; their critics, more than 90% of
students pointed out that they were frequently committed to
view, listen and follow up what is requested from them online
(Fig. 2).
The students confirmed that they would advise other
colleagues to take a similar course and pointed out how they
became more motivated and responsible for their learning
(Fig. 3).
The students also elaborated this point in the focus group,
emphasizing how they have been “motivating” at the same
time. Reciprocal commitment has been established between
the students and their teacher:
“I think in this method when a student has many tasks
and things to do and prepare, he becomes a source of
motivation for the teacher to give endlessly more in
return”… Learner 1.
World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology
International Journal of Educational and Pedagogical Sciences
Vol:12, No:6, 2018
752International Scholarly and Scientific Research & Innovation 12(6) 2018 ISNI:0000000091950263
Open Science Index, Educational and Pedagogical Sciences Vol:12, No:6, 2018 publications.waset.org/10009133/pdf
Fig. 2 Commitment of Students
Fig. 3 Motivation of learners
Being involved in this experience, they realized they could
achieve more than they would in a traditional lecturing class.
Most of the students agreed they learned to organize and
manage their learning process and appreciated the
individualized and self-paced routine of this course (Fig. 4).
Fig. 4 Better management and organization of learning process
However, only 60% of them would prefer to have all their
classes of language in such a method because this would
require doubled effort, time, and commitment from them.
With five or six courses in a semester, they would be
overburdened. Moreover, they do not think that all subjects
can be offered in hybrid modality. Besides, learners
underlined the importance of the role of their teacher as an
advisor and a guide to ensure they got things right.
Concerning the second axe of our research,
Communication and interaction between learners
themselves and between them and their teacher,
participants confirmed the influence of this innovative
technique on their communication and interaction since they
were always encouraged to work on various projects that
demanded interaction with each other, with the society and
finally with the teacher (Fig. 5).
Fig. 5 Communication and Interaction
In the focus group, they added that tools like Facebook,
Trello, and Padlet helped them collaborate in distance. They
confirmed that they will keep on using the tools of
collaboration even after the end of the semester, particularly,
the Facebook group. A quick look on the posts of the group,
one realizes that they were still using it to communicate and
share things concerning the French language learning or
strategies of “learning to learn” together. Here is- an example
of many- of a participation one month after the end of the
semester, knowing that the course ended mid December 2016.
One of the students
shares a French expression using animals
that she learnt by her own, and encourages her colleagues to
find out other expressions with animals on Facebook group
page of this course, «Comprehension et Expression Orale
(Fig. 6).
Aiming to estimate the effectiveness on their achievement,
the results confirmed that most of them believe their activity
has been improved and doubled; they could practice the
language more and accomplish concrete language projects.
Playing the principal role made them appreciate their
autonomy and built up their self-confidence. They became
aware of their capacities to discover and establish their
learning:
“… in a traditional classroom, we take only what is in
the book and what the teacher says. But when we search
for something, we like to share it with friends and let
them benefit from it: for example if I like a song, I put it
on Facebook, and tell them about it using French”.
Learner 2
For them, a flipped classroom increases the opportunities to
learn; chances are unlimited. In addition, the quality of
learning is better [11]:
“When we look for the information, we learn more, we
go further than we’re told to and then we like to share it
with colleagues, on Facebook, for example”. Learner 3
They appreciated the openness provided by the online
I strongly disagree
I disagree
I agree
I strongly agree
I strongly disagree
I disagree
I agree
I strongly agree
I strongly disagree
I disagree
I agree
I stron
g
l
y
a
g
ree
I strongly disagree
I disagree
I agree
I strongly agree
World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology
International Journal of Educational and Pedagogical Sciences
Vol:12, No:6, 2018
753International Scholarly and Scientific Research & Innovation 12(6) 2018 ISNI:0000000091950263
Open Science Index, Educational and Pedagogical Sciences Vol:12, No:6, 2018 publications.waset.org/10009133/pdf
designed course and related technical tools:
“We can access resources anytime, we discover
information first, and then we come to the class and
discuss it with teachers and colleagues.” L 4
To summarize this point, the high percentage given to this
issue confirms how much they could touch the positive
influence of this learning approach supported by ICT on their
linguistic achievement; 85% assured that this course made a
remarkable improvement on their oral skills (Fig. 7).
Fig. 6 Example of a Facebook post
Fig. 7 Remarkable improvement of my oral skills
When it comes to the role of ICT and Social media in
enhancing their active role, almost 65% of them liked using
Moodle to discover documents, accomplish activities, do
quizzes and submit assignments. Almost the same percentage
of them specified that they prefer the blended model to the
traditional pure face-to-face lecturing (Fig. 8).
Fig. 8 Preference of using the blended method to the traditional face-
to- face
Additionally, they strongly emphasized the overriding role
of the pedagogical platform and the social media in their
learning experience during the course (Fig. 9).
Fig. 9 The marginality of Moodle and social media in their learning
experience
To sum up, it is imperative to signalize the frequent
keywords participants attributed to themselves during the
focus group. They mostly used terms like active, researcher,
responsible, sharing, enthusiastic and inspiring. From this list
pops up the shift, progressively made, from a teacher-centered
paradigm to a learner-centered one [14]. What is obvious is
the main change from the paradigm of heteronomy to that of
autonomy [15]. The students became the center of the learning
process and played the main role to be successful in this
challenging innovative experience.
V. C
ONCLUSION
The aim of this study was to examine the impact of blended
learning on involving learners in an inter-active learning
environment. In this course of oral skills of FFL, the
implementation of this method was to shift from teacher and
content-centered paradigm to a highly learner-centered one.
The analysis of students’ answers to a questionnaire revealed
that, in general, students highlighted that they preferred and
appreciated the active strategies, enhanced with and
implemented within the blended course. They prefer to keep
working with this strategy for the classes of French language.
I stron
g
l
y
disa
g
ree
I strongly disagree
I agree
I strongly agree
I strongly disagree
I strongly disagree
I agree
I strongly agree
I strongly disagree
I disagree
I agree
I strongly agree
World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology
International Journal of Educational and Pedagogical Sciences
Vol:12, No:6, 2018
754International Scholarly and Scientific Research & Innovation 12(6) 2018 ISNI:0000000091950263
Open Science Index, Educational and Pedagogical Sciences Vol:12, No:6, 2018 publications.waset.org/10009133/pdf
However, they needed always to have the feeling of “security”
that the teacher is always there to guide them and to validate
the outcomes of their own learning [16].
From the comments and keywords underlined out of the
focus group interview with the participants, a remarkable
transformation of the educational paradigm from a content and
teacher-centered to a learner-centered one is obviously
recognized. The learner is responsible of their learning
process: he chooses, s/he experiments, s/he decides, s/he
searches, s/he collaborates and s/he produces [16], [17].
Students acquired many strategies of learning to learn; they
learned to collaborate and work in groups; and they learned to
lead their learning.
For students, this innovative education experience of
learning oral French skills was very successful and motivating.
They are encouraged to repeat it more and more, taking into
consideration the well-planned guidance and tutoring. Finally,
it is important to study, in future researches, the teachers’
point of view regarding the shift of his/her role; their readiness
to use it; their expectations and possibilities to implement it in
their courses.
REFERENCES
[1] Jézégou A., (2005), Formation ouverte: libertés de choix et autodirection
de l’apprenant, Paris: L’harmattan.
[2] Rivens Mompean, A., (2009), «Trajectoire institutionnel du CRL Lille 3:
Les étapes clé du dispositif», in Rivens Mompean, A., et Barbot, M.-J.
(édit), Dispositif médiatisés en langues et accompagnement tutorat,
Lille: Université Lille 3.
[3] Berrett, D. (2012). “How 'flipping' the classroom can improve the
traditional lecture”. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Washington,
D.C. Available online, consulted on 30/11/2016:
https://people.ok.ubc.ca/cstother/How_Flipping_the_Classroom_Can_I
mprove_the_Traditional_Lecture.pdf.
[4] Johnson, G. (2013). Student perception of the Flipped Classroom.
Kelowna: The University of British Columbia.
[5] Bélisle, C., (2003), « Médiation humaines et médiations technologiques
» Médiation, Médiatisation et Apprentissages, Journée NEQ, ENS
Lettres et sciences Humaines à Lyon pp.21-34
[6] Grosjean, S., & Charrette, Y., (2000). «Vers une communauté
apprenante: L’intégration d’une vision constructiviste à un dispositif de
formation à distance ». IFLI 2000 (Institut de formation linguistique
intégral).
[7] Kohonen, V. (1992): “Experiential learning: second language learning as
cooperative learner education”. In David Nunan (Ed.) Collaborative
Language Learning and Teaching”, Cambridge University Press.
[8] Nash, R., (2014). The active classroom: Practical strategies for
involving students in the learning process. USA: Corwin Press.
[9] Rivens Mompean, A., (2012) «Tutorat en ligne – Analyse des pratiques
d'interaction et de feedback dans un blogue pour l'apprentissage de
l'anglais », in Ciekansk, M., et Dejean-Thircuir, C., (dir.) Alsic, Vol. 15,
n° 2 | 2012 Spécial Epal 2011.
[10] Pourtois, J.-P., & Desmet, H., (1999), L’éducation postmoderne, Paris:
PUF.
[11] Poisson, Y., 1991. La recherche qualitative en éducation. Québec, PUQ.
[12] Krippendorff, K. (2004). Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its
Methodology, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
[13] Onwuegbuzie, A., J., & al., 2009. “A Qualitative Framework for
Collecting and yzing DAnalata in Focus Group Research”, in IJQM 8,
University of Alberata.
[14] Tardif, J., (1998), Intégrer les nouvelles technologies de l’information:
Quel cadre pédagogique? Paris: ESF éditeur.
[15] Barbot, M., J., & Massou, L., (2011), TIC et métiers de l’enseignement
supérieur. Émergence, transformation, Nancy: Presses Universitaires de
Nancy.
[16] Hijjawi, T., (2012) ‘‘Towards the Autonomisation of University Student:
Evaluation of Students’ Perception and Practice of ICT in Foreign
languages Learning’’, in TOJDEL, Vol. 1, Issue 2. 2012.
[17] Hijjawi, T. (2013). Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
for Foreign Language Teaching in Palestinian Universities… Yes, but
How? Evaluation of policies and pedagogical innovation of ICT
integration into the higher Palestinian educational system., Lille:
University Lille 3 Charles de Gaulle.
World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology
International Journal of Educational and Pedagogical Sciences
Vol:12, No:6, 2018
755International Scholarly and Scientific Research & Innovation 12(6) 2018 ISNI:0000000091950263
Open Science Index, Educational and Pedagogical Sciences Vol:12, No:6, 2018 publications.waset.org/10009133/pdf
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
This qualitative comprehensive research is based on the findings of the content analysis of the Palestinian students’ representations and practices of ICT implementation in three university courses of foreign languages in a blended learning mode. Our study is concerned of: “Remedial English” at Birzeit University, developed for RUFO project; “English 1” & “French 1” at An-Najah National University, developed for QIF project. Is it enough to afford digital tools to “digital native” students to ensure a better learning process and a more autonomous learner? In their interviews, students clarified that they faced some troubles managing the learning process. We classified these difficulties into three main aspects related to: personal representations, sociocultural habits and psychological obstacles; pedagogical posture and attitude; and technical difficulties. Findings confirmed that to have a self- reliant student, it’s not enough to implement ICT. It is necessary to change the educational paradigm and shift from a teaching-centered model to a learning- centered one.
Article
Full-text available
Despite the abundance of published material on conducting focus groups, scant specific information exists on how to analyze focus group data in social science research. Thus, the authors provide a new qualitative framework for collecting and analyzing focus group data. First, they identify types of data that can be collected during focus groups. Second, they identify the qualitative data analysis techniques best suited for analyzing these data. Third, they introduce what they term as a micro-interlocutor analysis, wherein meticulous information about which participant responds to each question, the order in which each participant responds, response characteristics, the nonverbal communication used, and the like is collected, analyzed, and interpreted. They conceptualize how conversation analysis offers great potential for analyzing focus group data. They believe that their framework goes far beyond analyzing only the verbal communication of focus group participants, thereby increasing the rigor of focus group analyses in social science research.
Book
Create an interactive environment that turns passive students into enthusiastic participants and nurtures interdependent learning.
Article
Blogs can be used in a teaching/learning situation and research has shown the motivational value of this kind of practice for the development of written productions, in a socio-constructivist setting, due to the involvement of the learners in social and meaningful activities. This leads to the question of correction and feedback from the tutor and his role throughout the interactions. A qualitative analysis of the interactions defines the way the tutor finds his place in the online exchanges, in the comments. We examine some of the parameters that seem to determine his role as an online tutor who is not only a language corrector but also a facilitator, a member of the debating community, engaged in a nearly symmetrical relationship with the learners. These elements enable us to understand what are the constitutive elements of successful coaching systems that reorganize the roles of the different actors and modify the way the pedagogical communication takes place online.