Investigating blended learning effectiveness and discerning its significant design features regarding students’ learning outcomes in higher education

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This Ph.D. project investigates blended learning implementation in higher education in the context a Vietnamese university. The research investigates the effect of blended learning on student performance, as a function of disciplinary differences (STEM and non-STEM), and the implementation of blended learning from the instructors’ perspectives. The research also focused on how blended learning design features are related to enhanced students’ learning achievements measured by objective course grades.
Four studies constitute the dissertation, among which a meta-analysis, a quantitative study, a qualitative study consisting of 29 interviews with instructors, and a survey study with a sample of 571 students from different blended learning courses at Can Tho university were conducted. The findings revealed that blended learning had an overall higher effect on student performance compared to traditional courses. The findings reveal that instructors in STEM and non-STEM disciplines shared both similarities and differences in their instructional strategies. In both cases, students’ self-regulation is a factor that should be addressed when designing blended learning activities. Furthermore, factors related to students’ performance measured by final course grades are unraveled, controlling for the effects of gender and prior learning achievement. The results show that students in non-STEM disciplines obtained higher grades than students in STEM disciplines. Clear goals and expectations, material quality, and collaborative learning are significant predictors of students’ performance. Factors related to instructors’ support, feedback, and facilitation are found to be non-significant to student learning performance.
The research results are important for supporting blended learning design and implementation in Vietnamese universities. Efforts to help students clearly understand what they can learn from the course and how they demonstrated the acquired knowledge and skills at each milestone is strongly appreciated. Additionally, with the advancement in technologies, making content more interactive and providing opportunities for students to interact with the content will help enhance student-content interaction. In addition to the importance of the design of authentic learning tasks that captures students’ interests and helps them apply theories in practices, it is crucial to keep students engaged in collaborative learning, and enhance instructor’s monitoring and prompt feedback.
Date of Award22 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel
SupervisorChang Zhu (Promotor)

Cite this