Defining the nature of blended learning through its depiction in current research

Karen Smith, John Hill

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)
    114 Downloads (Pure)


    Blended learning has been a feature of higher education practice and research for almost two decades. This article takes stock of current blended learning research, contributing to the growing number of meta-analyses of higher education and blended learning research more generally, through a review of ninety-seven articles relating to blended learning in higher education published in fifteen journals between 2012 and mid-2017. The review focused on where and when the articles were published; their provenance, scale, scope; methodological approach; the broad research themes; and definition of blended learning used. The review shows that despite its ubiquity, blended learning’s definition is all-encompassing; its spread is global but research is dominated by key players; it is of technical interest; and its research is small-scale, individually focused, seeking to evidence the benefits of blended learning. The article concludes with recommendations of how higher education research could provide institutions with evidence to ensure their ‘best of blends’.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)383-397
    Number of pages15
    JournalHigher Education Research and Development
    Issue number2
    Early online date18 Sept 2018
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Sept 2018


    • Blended learning
    • higher education research
    • literature review


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