Impact of the shift towards blended learning on student engagement

The aim of this StudentShapers project was to analyse data on students' engagement in a blended learning environment to compare with traditional methods of teaching. Data was taken from Blackboard, Panopto, and Piazza for selected modules from the Mathematics Department in academic years 2018/19, 2019/20, and 2020/21.

Dr Ioanna Papatsouma, Teaching Fellow in Statistics led the project with a group of four Mathematics students, one from each academic year. We measured engagement with blended learning through metrics such as post views on Piazza, hours spent on Blackboard, and the last view time of Panopto videos - whether they were last viewed during term-time or the Easter revision period. Box plots and violin plots were created in order to visually compare engagement year-on-year.

As well as reviewing blended learning approaches, guidance material was produced to support current and incoming Mathematics students. This included a ‘Day in the Life of a Blended Learning Student’ video and how-to videos on commonly used platforms such as Maths Central.

This project was a great exercise in data analysis for the students. If the project could be explored further, it would also be useful to consider holistic effects on blended learning. There were also limitations with the exported data, as it was only available individually as counts of activity over an academic year and did not allow exploration of activity over time. In future, more comparisons could be made between years where blended learning was in place, rather than comparing the before and after.

Written by Yian Zeng, Mathematics student

Screenshot from the ‘Day in the Life’ video
Screenshot from the ‘Day in the Life’ video