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Title: An evaluation of blended learning for critical reflection in graphic design higher education
Authors: Warburton, Chantelle 
Issue Date: Aug-2017
The context of this research is blended learning, a pedagogical approach that is effectively used in higher education. This pedagogical approach integrates face-to-face and online learning activities. The research inquiry focused on the researcher’s teaching of second-year students studying a three-year degree in graphic design at a private college in Durban, South Africa. Two interconnected teaching and learning challenges were addressed: the effects of the time-constrained, face-to-face studio style approach to design education; and students’ limited capacity for critical reflection. The research opportunity was therefore to evaluate the effectiveness of a graphic design blended learning intervention for supplementing contact time and fostering critical reflection. In the tradition of action research, the study took a developmental approach. Drawing on research on critical reflection in design and approaches to blended learning, parameters for a blended learning intervention were established. The resulting blended learning framework was applied in three interconnected cycles of action research, as follows. First, cycle one served as a baseline analysis of students’ critical reflection before the intervention. The researcher recorded and analysed a group review, and a series of individual reviews with her students. These were analysed with two questions in mind: ‘what’: “What types of reflection do students engage in?”; ‘why’: “Why are the students reflecting in a particular way?”.Second, cycle two developed, implemented and analysed a blended learning strategy for critical reflection (BLSCR). This was guided by the blended learning framework parameters, and the findings from cycle one. Third, cycle three evaluated students’ perception of the BLSCR through a focus group discussion with the participants. The focus group findings were compared with those of cycle two. The main finding is that the study’s blended learning strategy for critical reflection (BLSCR) works to foster critical reflection, but refinement is needed to address the matter of supplementing contact time. The two main points of refinement are: Students need to be ready to learn (feel psychologically responsible for their own learning);Students need to know that they have learned, and what they have learned.The findings and conclusion then motivate for implementing these refinements in further interventions beyond the study.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Applied Arts in Graphic Design, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2017.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Arts and Design)

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