Blended Learning: Undergraduate Students' Experiences of Using Technology to Support Their Learning

Amanda Jefferies

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis investigates undergraduate experiences of studying within a blended learning environment at a UK university in the first decade of the 21st century. Blended learning in this context comprises the use of institutionally provided technologies including a university-wide managed learning environment, alongside campus-based classroom teaching to support student learning. The personal ownership of technologies and their importance for the student learning experience is also considered. The University of Hertfordshire has promoted itself as a ‘blended learning institution’ since 2005 and this study considers what blended learning means and how students use information technology to support their learning. The study approaches the student experience of blended learning by considering three constituent themes: the student, their HE study and their use of technology. The preliminary study for this work used student constructed reflective video and audio diaries over a period of 18 months. Subsequently a new conceptual framework was drawn up by the researcher. This provided a matrix structure with which to explore through interviews with students their uses of technology for learning, and the relationship with approaches to pedagogy. The analysis of the interviews has provided a snapshot of students’ experiences of pedagogy and technology use across their studies. A Venn diagram was used to explore the three themes and provide a representation of the extent to which technology is seen by students as a part of their everyday lives whether for study or leisure. The student experiences reported here demonstrated a high degree of dependence on technology overall in both their personal and study lives. Their preferences were for a learning environment which included both the taught campus–based experience and the opportunity for easy online access to materials and supplementary activities to support their studies twenty four hours a day. As the students reported on their ‘maturing’ as learners during the course of the study, they described increasingly sophisticated online searching strategies and independent approaches to their learning regardless of their personal pedagogic preferences. Garrison and Vaughan assert that the ‘ideal educational transaction is a collaborative constructivist process that has inquiry at its core’ (2008:14). The outcome of this study presents a more complex view of the student experience of pedagogy in Higher Education. While recent research has reported on the student experience of either technology or pedagogy, the unique contribution of this study is its consideration of both pedagogy and the use of information technology from the viewpoint of the student experience.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Hertfordshire
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • blended learning
  • student experience
  • video and audio diaries
  • e-pedagogy


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