Student engagement in blended and connected learning and teaching: a view from students

Cesar Alejandro Armellini*, Harriet Dunbar-Morris, Amy Elizabeth Barlow, Dylan Powell

*Corresponding author for this work

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This student voice article addresses three key issues in the context of the student experience at the University of Portsmouth in relation to Covid-19: the impact of the pandemic on student engagement with their studies, lessons learned in the area of blended and connected (B&C) learning and teaching, and potential features of the post-Covid student experience. Through the eyes of students, we address significant questions, including: Is the initial vision for B&C learning fit for a future where the student experience may be shaped by lower physical proximity and lower synchronicity? How will provision cater for the needs and expectations of students studying on and off campus? Will digital tools, such as content capture and virtual learning environments, play a different role to promote active learning within a student-centred pedagogic mix? Will institutions return to mass lectures in face-to-face format? The article begins by exploring the pre-Covid period by considering, through a student lens, the pedagogic change journey that the University embarked upon in 2019, known as the institutional shift to B&C learning (Dunbar-Morris, 2020). It considers the principles and expected outcomes of our B&C approach at Portsmouth, how the rationale for the shift was communicated to different stakeholder groups, and how it was received, particularly by students. It reviews feedback from students who experienced modules that had been redesigned for B&C learning, and the role played by academic staff, particularly personal tutors, in the roll-out and embedding of this approach. The analysis includes: student perceptions of self-directed learning, student autonomy (both key components of B&C), contact time and value for money. Student feedback is then used to gain an understanding of the impact of the pandemic on student engagement with their studies (Explorance, 2020). We review this data to provide insights into the extent to which the additional constraints associated with Covid-19 affected the student experience, especially students’ engagement. This section reflects on the effect of the B&C agenda on the University’s response to the pandemic as all courses moved online in March 2020. This analysis is used to examine lessons learned from the pandemic so far and their likely influence on the University’s future plans for learning and teaching. Based on these findings and lessons learned, the article concludes by putting forward a post-Covid scenario for learning and teaching at this University and potentially beyond. References Dunbar-Morris, H. (2020). Developing a Blended and Connected Learning Experience – Rising to the Challenges, Education 4.0 Our Next Phase to Curriculum and Assessment Design International Virtual Series ( 10th August 2020. Explorance (ed)(2020) Engaging the student voice in our ‘new normal’. How are universities planning to capture, and act upon, feedback from students in 2020-21? Ebook:
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-181
JournalStudent Engagement in Higher Education Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2022


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