Doctoral student reflections of blended learning before and during covid-19

Bradley D. F. Colpitts, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan, Brandy L. Usick, University of Manitoba, Canada & Sarah Elaine Eaton, University of Calgary, Canada
Published online: 30 October 2020, JCETR, 4(2), pp. 3-11.

DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.4247601

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Purpose: Οur study aimed to address the central research question: how were our experiences as graduate students in a blended learning professional doctoral program changed by the COVID-19 crisis? The study adds to a growing body of literature on blended learning graduate programs.

Methods: We employed action research as our central methodology and leveraged narrative inquiry to elevate our (students’) voices. The two participant-researchers responded to a series of questions supported by narrative reflections from their common academic supervisor. Emergent themes were identified in the data using narrative analysis techniques for coding qualitative data into themes. This was followed by a second phase of data collection and analysis after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results: Τhe researchers identified four themes within the data: 1. balancing doctoral work with professional and personal responsibilities; 2. cohort provides formal and informal support; 3. individuality of the experience; and 4. supervisory group support.

Implications: Οur study offers a number of key learnings that may benefit researchers studying blended learning programs. The key learnings suggest benefits to cohort-based, blended learning programs, as well as difficulties that may emerge in the individuality of the experience, when encountering crises, as well as more generally.

Keywords: blended learning, COVID-19, graduate education, online education, student experience

JEL Classification: I12, I20, I28