A Proposal to Introduce Blended Learning into the History Curriculum

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Alexander Dawson, Department of History

Project team: John Harriss, School for International Studies, Roxanne Panchasi, Bidisha Ray, and Aaron Windel Department of History, Elizabeth Stoiaken and Leigha Smith, research assistants

Timeframe: April 2013 to December 2014

Funding: $10,000

Courses addressed:

  • HIST 265 – Global History from the Revolutionary Age to the Present (new course)
  • HIST 209 – Modern Latin America

Final report: View Alec Dawson's final project report (PDF).

From the final report: "I like the weekly commentaries, it pushes me to stay on top of the coursework and makes me think about the weekly readings more than I normally would." Read More >>

Description: This project aims to “flip the classroom” in two 200-level history and international studies courses, with the aim of both delivering novel pedagogy and developing recommendations that can be applied more generally in the social sciences and humanities.  We plan to develop learning modules that can replace our traditional lectures with dynamic web-based forms of learning, drawing from the novel visual, aural, and interactive possibilities available in this format. We will use some recorded lectures, but other things as well, including interactive student assignments.

In the model proposed, professors who have traditionally taught two hours of lecture and one hour of tutorial per week will now teach three tutorials per week, to three separate groups of 20 students (who will in turn have one hour of tutorial and two hours of web-based instruction per week). Faculty in History already teach tutorials and seminars, and so this will entail emphasizing one common pedagogical practice instead of another. Moreover, the faculty who will teach these courses will be participating in the re-design of these courses. We believe that this project will not only enhance learning at the undergraduate level in our departments, but could potentially allow us to leverage our teaching resources more effectively.

This application covers two phases of funding. In the first phase, we will employ two RAs to gather materials and prepare the courses (the deliverable for this phase will be the course designs and a final report on this process). In the second phase we will employ two RAs to evaluate these courses when they are offered for the first time. The RAs will then prepare a report in consultation with the instructor that assesses the effectiveness of the course design, critically evaluates student responses to both the material and format of the course, and makes recommendations for the future.

Questions addressed:

  • What is the ideal blended classroom in lower level courses and what material can we use for the web-based portions of our blended classrooms?  What would a blended course look like?
  • What is the quality of student work produced under the new course design?
  • To what extent are students satisfied with various components (presentation of materials, assignments, tutorial, etc.)?
  • How do students perceive their own learning experience under the new course design?

Knowledge sharing: We will make public presentations about our work, provide a list of recommendations and best practices for instructors who want to develop these courses in the future, and make the blended courses we design freely available to any colleague who wishes to study them with an eye to developing their own. We will also happily consult with those instructors who wish to do this in the future.