Blended Environments: Learning effectiveness and student satisfaction at a small college in transition

Gouri Banerjee


As higher education moves increasingly to blended and fully online environments, smaller institutions often ask whether this is a desirable trend. They face many challenges in transforming their largely face to-face didactic teaching traditions to the technology mediated learning environments. Learning effectiveness and student satisfaction are seen to be decisive in whether blended environments are a positive development or not. Using survey data from a liberal arts and sciences institution, we show that student satisfaction with blended learning depends largely on the challenges presented by the subject matter, the degree to which self-directed learning and problem solving are required, and the effectiveness of the chosen pedagogies by which face-to-face and online methods are combined. Blended environments that provide multiple modalities for learning, significant interactivity, familiar technologies, and sustained connections with teachers and peers are preferred by increasing numbers of students in this institution. Although many students and faculty remain skeptical about blended learning, there are others who are very satisfied learners.


Small liberal arts colleges, Blended learning, Student satisfaction, Learning outcomes, Learning


Two studies were conducted at a small liberal arts and sciences college. Overall, students felt that not all subjects were equally suited to blended learning.

Study 1: Quantitative study where 240 students filled out a survey concerning their thoughts on learning technology, in particular how satisfied they were with faculty using online, blended and F2F teaching methods. 58% of students preferred a “moderate” amount of technology in their courses although most didn’t consider internet use as a “technology” (p. 13). Business, IT and Education students looked most favorable on technology use in their courses. Males were more likely than females to feel that technology use in courses enhanced their learning. Students working off-campus or in internships were more likely to be satisfied with blended courses. Only 37% of students felt learning technologies increased engagement, 41% didn’t lean one way or the other and 21% felt that learning technologies decreased student engagement.

Study 2: Qualitative study of student evaluations from 2008,2009,2010 in a “Problem Solving with Computers” course. Student engagement was particularly high in using Google Docs , Google Forms and Wikis for collaborative learning. 57% preferred the blended format and 42% preferred F2F. Again more males than females strongly agreed that blended learning increased learning. Males and females equally agreed that blended improved learning by allowing F2F questions, increasing self-directed learning and allowing more thorough instruction. Overall, students were satisfied but tended to prefer F2F aspects in the student evaluations.

APA Citation

Banerjee, G. (2011). Blended environments: Learning effectiveness and student satisfaction at a small college in transition. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 15, 8-19.

About the Study

Links to Article
Mode Blended or Hybrid
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks
Type of Research Mixed methods
Research Design Survey research (qualitative or quantitative)
Intervention/Areas of Study Course and program evaluation
Level of Analysis Student-level
Specific Populations Examined Undergraduates
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest Private, Other
Specific Course or Program Characteristics
Outcome Variables of Interest Learning effectiveness, Satisfaction
Student Sample Size 200-299
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