This chapter describes in details the background of the study, the statement of the problem, and the purpose. Besides that, this chapter also underlines on the research objectives that aim on answering the research questions. In addition, this chapter also explains about the significance, scope, conceptual framework, and definition of terms that relate to the study. Finally, this chapter ends with a summary of the whole chapter.
1.1 Background of the Study
Internet and education is not a trend anymore in today's context. It is a must to connect with the world via Internet in order to gain more knowledge in a short period of time. That is why in current teaching and learning process, educators set a huge effort on collaborating the lesson with online communication and information resource - which is Internet. Entwined with the effective teaching and learning is the quest for continuous improvement in pedagogical competence. One way of achieving this is to develop an effective channel that suits the learners' needs and at the same time, allows students to keep themselves updated with educators at any hour. Hence, the chosen line of attack in this paper is the I-Learn Class Portal Class Portal which focuses on the blended learning. The depth review on the historical development of blended learning will be described in Chapter 2 Literature Review.
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For years and years, the expert has gone through several stages in doing a number of researches in order to search for better way of acquiring education. Thus, blended learning has been created. According to Hisham Dzakiria, et. al (2006) has stated that the term "blended learning" (BL) has gained considerable interest in recent years as a description of particular forms of teaching combined with technology. The definition of BL is varied and contrasting. For example, Whitelock & Jefts (2003), Alavi & Gallupe (2003), Arbaugh (2005) and Peterson (2003) referred BL as the integrated combination of traditional learning with web-based online approaches, the combination of media and tools deployed in an e-learning environment and the combination of a number of pedagogical approaches, irrespective of the learning technology used in each case.
This study will focus on the probability in using the I-Learn Class Portal may contribute to the higher achievement among the varsity students. In addition, the implementation of I-Learn Class Portal that illustrates the paradigmatic shift from knowledge-based rote learning to self-access learning promotes independence and life-long learning and this is parallel with the Malaysia Vision of 2020. Besides that, the study will examine on how I-Learn Class Portal Class Portal usage can affect students' achievement during their campus life.
Universities in Malaysia, specifically Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Shah Alam is also using this blended learning in order to cater varied needs of learning styles among the students, especially and of course for better way of educating the target group. In UiTM, it is called e-learning or specifically, I-Learn Class Portal. For UiTM, e-learning will create an extended learning environment that supports, complements and enriches face to face classroom teaching and learning for the on-campus programs as well as distance learning programs (The Monthly Publication on ICT and Education for Asia and the Middle East which entitled 'Digital Learning', 2007)
Hence, does I-Learn Class Portal really contribute to the students' achievement?
1.2 Statement of Problem
In Malaysian cultural context, the education system has trained the students not to make noise during class. Hence, this culture indirectly affects the students' communicative aspects in class (Sumadevi, 2001). According to Sumadevi (2001), lecturers at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) often say that most of the time students do not have questions to ask even when they do not understand but they choose not to ask.
As we all know, any human's creation or invention on this planet; there must be some weaknesses or its own technical problem here and there. This predicament is also occurring in using I-Learn Class Portal. Based on the researcher's experience in using I-Learn Class Portal, there were times where I-Learn Class Portal cannot loading too much users' information when the users were responding to the forum at one time. This is like a burden for the users to use I-Learn Class Portal regularly at a regular time because as a student, there are abundance of workload of assignments, presentations which have to be prepared, group work and all. So, I-Learn Class Portal seems to be a place to stop-by-for-a-minute for the users because of this matter. In addition, sometimes the users have to write a long respond or wanted to provide some ideas on the issue related, so it will take times to type and to think on the spot. The problem is, I-Learn Class Portal cannot 'wait' the users, so I-Learn Class Portal will hang for couple of minutes and the information that the users want to add will be lost. This situation is frustrating.
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Furthermore, there are non-residential students or users who do not have Internet connection at their rent house. If they have to go to the library for the access, they will have restricted time because they will be having classes and they might not have extra time to go to the library to access the information. So, it is a matter to be pondered because I-Learn Class Portal is designed to help students academically thus, contribute to their achievement.
It is unquestionable that the emergence of I-Learn Class Portal makes the students' or users' life easier as they can reach the information as similar as they had in class. However, there will be a potential reason for them to skip classes because they know that they will check it out in I-Learn Class Portal. This bad scenario can encourage the students or users to be lazy. Hence, this research focuses on the usage of I-Learn Class Portal and its impact on students' achievement.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to assess the potential reasons, benefits and challenges of implementing blended learning using I-Learn Class Portal in order to see a parallel view of using I-Learn Class Portal will increase the students' achievement or not.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are:
1. To investigate reasons why students choose I-Learn Class Portal
The main objective of this research is to know the usage of using I-Learn Class Portal is contributing to higher achievement among the full-time Part 8 in Bachelor in Education, TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) students at UiTM Shah Alam, Seksyen 17, Shah Alam, Selangor as one of the ways in acquiring academic information for revision in their studies.
This research also seeks to understand on how it will contribute to the students' achievement by utilizing I-Learn Class Portal and why they choose I-Learn Class Portal.
For the purpose of this research, two research questions will be looked into:
How does I-Learn Class Portal contributes to students' achievement?
Why do the students choose to use I-Learn Class Portal instead to acquire academic information instead of any other sources?
Definition of Terms
It is basically a learning process which involved both ways of teaching and learning process - traditional and the advanced one like teaching Mathematics using blackboard and perhaps after that using the computers to search for questions bank in online portal. According to Colis & Moonen (2001), blended learning is described as a hybrid of traditional face-to-face and online learning so that instruction occurs both in the classroom and online, and where the online component becomes a natural extension of traditional classroom learning. Blended learning is thus a flexible approach to course design that supports the blending of different times and places for learning, offering some of the conveniences of fully online courses without the complete loss of face-to face contact (which is taken from Malaysian Online Journal of Instructional Technology (MOJIT) which entitled 'A Research in E-Learning in a Hybrid Environment - A Case for Blended Instruction', Vol. 2, No.2, pp 124-136, by Fong Soon Fook et. Al, August 2005, Universiti Sains Malaysia)
I-Learn Class Portal
I-Learn Class Portal is basically created by UiTM for the alternative in teaching and learning process. I-Learn Class Portal are an acronym for 'interactive learning' - meaning that it uses virtual information and Internet is the connection in order for acquiring for academic information. This I-Learn Class Portal is more concerned with getting lecturers to upload their teaching materials onto the platform so that when the portal is accessible to students; they can at least start off with the materials available online (which is taken from the Monthly Publication on ICT and Education for Asia and the Middle East which entitled 'Digital Learning', January 2007, Vol. 3, Issue 1. Page 6 - 'E-learning Implementation and Strategies for UiTM, Malaysia')
Students' achievement is basically measured based on their summative and formative total marks. This can be determined by the distributed questionnaires randomly to the Part 5 students who are currently studying in Bachelor in Education in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) at UiTM Shah Alam, Seksyen 17, Shah Alam, Selangor.
Significance of the Study
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In this globalization era, there are so many tremendous usages of science and technology towards education field. They may derive a whole lot of positive impacts and also the negative ones. Generally, this research will look in to the effects of 'online learning' towards the lecturers and the students. Another significances are; this research is important to be conducted as it is to measure the students' readiness to use this I-Learn Class Portal as their second medium of learning and it is also significant to understand the students' learning styles.
1.6 Limitations of the Study
The first limitation of this study is the nature of the nameless correspondents for the driven data from the questionnaires later. So, the researcher will not know from whom the questionnaires will be belonging to. Therefore, the data which would be collected after the correspondents answered will not be valid enough because there is tendency for the correspondents to not answer the questionnaires given honestly. Also, the researcher might found some difficulties in getting cooperation from the target group - Part 8 Students in Bachelor in Education in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) at Faculty of Education, UiTM Shah Alam, Seksyen 17, Shah Alam, Selangor. In addition to that, this research is to be conducted within a relatively short period of time may also limit the extent the results of this research.
1.7 Delimitations of the Study
This research only focuses on the information from the driven data based on the questionnaires which will be distributed to the target group of students. In addition, the interview with selected lecturers will be done in order to gain feedback upon the I-Learn Class Portal usage and its direct correlation with students' achievement. The selected lecturers must be those who are using I-Learn Class Portal as their second medium of teaching process.
In conclusion, this chapter has introduced the scope of this research which is to study the relationship between the usages of I-Learn Class Portal and the students' achievement at Faculty of Education, UiTM Shah Alam, Seksyen 17, Shah Alam, Selangor. There are a number of researchers have been studied the impact of online learning. Hence, this research will be presenting the correlation between those two elements - I-Learn Class Portal usage and the achievement. This is to clarify the notion whether it has direct correlation or none at all. Thus, this chapter has outlined the needs for conducting this research which are; the objectives, the purpose, the significance, the limitations and the delimitations.
The current trend in education field at tertiary level has demanded both educators and learners to speed up their way of teaching and learning process in order to compete with each other compared to the times back then. Back then, there were only a few of both educators and learners knew about the power of science and technology usages in terms to boost up their achievement whether in teaching methods and approaches or learning styles. In this century, we have seen a lot of improvement in terms for the better education - the way the educators deliver the lesson and also the way the learners acquire the lesson. It is all about the needs of both parties.
Hence, we are all being exposed to the term of 'blended learning' in tertiary level to be specific. In Malaysia, there are a number of universities and college universities utilize this type of teaching and learning process - blended learning. These " In Malaysia, apart from two established distance learning universities, namely, the School of Distance of Education (SDE) of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Open University Malaysia (OUM) , the remaining traditional institutions are not lacking behind in seeking similar opportunities," This is in a way to cater both parties' needs and make the teaching and learning process easier. In addition, the educators and learners may want to meet up with each other but the time constraint them to do so. With the help of technology, they can do so by online conferencing, online forum or even connected via electronic mail (e-mail). These are the positive sides of the technology. What about the negative ones? This question has been pondered by Fong Soon Fook et. al which stated that, "However, while many universities have registered an interest in the e-learning environment, not many can claim excellence or satisfaction in it. The reasons that can be ascribed to this state of flux can be a variety of factors, namely:
1. Early interest that wanes over time.
2. Lack of technological support for academic input.
3. No evidence that e-learning makes a difference for the effort spent.
4. Students' disenchantment with e-environments.
5. Apprehension regarding the motives of administrators promoting Web-based education without the appropriate technical or pedagogical support (Bonk, 2001; Bonk 2002).
This research is to be conducted in order to seek the explanation for that matter. Also, this research will look in to in what ways do the learners acquire the lesson through blended learning? In addition, varsity students have so many other ways to acquire academic information besides attending classes but what are the relevancies in using the standardized online learning created by their own university? This is something to search for. Thus, the objectives of the research have made it clear that it is to understand the students' learning styles.
2.1 Review of Related Literature
Based on what given in the definitions of I-Learn Class Portal and blended learning in previous chapter; organizations and educational institutions must now account for BL in all its various disguises (Webster & Hackley, 1997).
According to Hisham Dzikiria et. al from Universiti Utara Malaysia has stated that, "One clear exception here is the study by Brower (2003) which focused on emulating classroom discussions via discussion board technology. This study illustrates with a single class example how to create a 'student centered learning community' in the classroom" Therefore, the I-Learn Class Portal usage among the UiTM students may benefit them in order to keep them updated with the new announcement or any kind of information posted by the lecturers. Of course this I-Learn Class Portal has its own learning outcomes and may contribute to the students' achievement and in a way it has been supporting the lecturers' works by posting those teaching materials online.
However, there must be some ground rules to do this in order to benefit both parties. Otherwise, there must have been some misunderstanding and miscommunication between the lecturers and students. This is supported by Fong Soon Fook et. al which has stated that, "Just as in any learning experience, students should have a clear understanding of what the instructor expects from them, as well as what they can expect from the instructor. This need is more critical for e-learning students than for traditional students because e-learning students may have difficulty getting timely responses to important questions. When planning e-learning infrastructures, administrators often "forget" about response requirements, and the subsequent "late responses" from teaching staff will reflect negatively on the course conductors. Often the excuse is "who has time to monitor student queries?" If such a situation arises, it is better not to have e-contacts at all as e-learning pages will then be treated as mere paper pages (dead and unresponsive). This, however, may be an addressable problem and does not further contribute to e-learning efforts."
According to the Monthly Publication on ICT and Education for Asia and the Middle East which entitled 'Digital Learning', January 2007, Vol. 3, Issue 1. Page 6 - 'E-learning Implementation and Strategies for UiTM, Malaysia'), it is a stepping stone for the students to achieve more in terms of their marks in summative and formative - "For UiTM, e-learning will create an extended learning environment that supports, complements and enriches face to face classroom teaching and learning for the on-campus programs as well as distance learning programs. Now learning can extend well beyond the classroom in a blended learning powered by the virtual capabilities of e-learning." Note that in this research context, the e-learning is only focuses on I-Learn Class Portal usages only.
Meanwhile, based on the Malaysian Online Journal of Instructional Technology (MOJIT), April 2006, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp 11-18 which entitled 'Moving Forward with Blended Learning (BL) as a Pedagogical Alternative to Traditional Classroom Learning' by Hisham Dzakiria, Che Su Mustafa and Hassan Abu Bakar from Faculty of Communication and Modern Languages, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Sintok, Kedah, Malaysia has conducted a qualitative case study which focused on the experiences of a small number of postgraduate students (n=06) at the Faculty of Communication and Modern Languages at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) as part of a close case study of postgraduate students taking the course Academic Writing for graduate studies. Due to the heterogeneous characteristics of the learners, this study deliberately sampled learners with various backgrounds to generate unique insights into the way they viewed BL. Furthermore, as these students had been enrolled between two to three years in various academic programs at UUM, the study would provide a better understanding of the teaching and learning as experienced and perceived by these learners at the faculty. Based on its discussion, it is understood that, "The fact remains that learning support can predictably affect BL - positively if planned well but negatively if attention has not been paid to the conditions under which learning best occurs. In reality, its importance has been undervalued. Many measures of educational institution effectiveness neglect the context of learning, focusing instead on the selection and performance of staff and learners and on the technology used. Effective learning support should be designed to enable postgraduate students to concentrate on their studies, free from distracting elements. At UUM, learning support should facilitate learning and access to knowledge. It is thus imperative that lecturers have an in-depth understanding of the impact learning support has on the learner and on BL as a whole, and some understanding of the context of the courses being taught."
According to Bonk, C. J. & Graham, C. R. (Eds.). (in press). Handbook of blended learning: Global Perspectives, local designs. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer Publishing, it has conveyed that there is a relevant explanation on this matter which stated, "There are many reasons why an instructor, trainer, or learner might pick blended learning over other learning options. Osguthorpe and Graham (2003) identified six reasons why one might chose to design or use a blended learning system: (1) pedagogical richness, (2) access to knowledge, (3) social interaction, (4) personal agency, (5) cost effectiveness, and (6) ease of revision. In the BL literature, the most common reason provided is that BL combines "the best of both worlds" (refs). While there is some truth to this, it is rarely acknowledged that a blended learning environment can also mix the least effective elements of both worlds if it is not designed well. Beyond this general statement, Graham et al. (Graham, Allen, & Ure, 2003, in press) found that overwhelmingly people chose BL for three reasons: (1) improved pedagogy, (2) increased access/flexibility, and (3) increased cost effectiveness." Note again that, in this research the blended learning is referring to I-Learn Class Portal to its relevant context.
This online learning; specifically I-Learn Class Portal is a way for the students' to reach their maximum performance in education at tertiary level. This is supported by the same researchers above; stated that, "our higher education survey found that online collaboration, case learning, and problem - based learning were the preferred instructional methods during the coming decade for online instructors in colleges and universities."
In conclusion, based on the researches which have been done before by the past and current researchers; it is evidently clear that varsity students should make use of the online learning for the balance way in terms of their own learning styles. One of the ways that they should make use of is using I-Learn Class Portal (for UiTM students) to assist their studies. According to Philip Davis and Suzanne Cohen in their extensive studies which have been carried out from 1996 to 2001, has determined that the Internet had affected undergraduates' research behavior. This factual notion has conveyed that the varsity students have got to use the Internet to search for academic information. To guide the students, there must be lecturers besides them but it will not happen in 24-7. So, the alternative is I-Learn Class Portal usage. That is why this research wants to determine whether this I-Learn Class Portal has a direct correlation with the students' achievement.
The purpose of data collection is to obtain and generate information in order to understand the extent of UiTM Full-time TESL students' I-Learn Class Portal usage as one of their point of references in assisting their studies to the maximum performances of achievement. Therefore, the researcher is interested in understanding this matter. Thus, this research will be conducted with the intention of investigating this matter respectively. Thus, the results will allow for the better understanding of the researcher the nature of learning style using I-Learn Class Portal among the students, and also the perspectives from the lecturers in relation to I-Learn Class Portal usage.
In this chapter, the researcher will outline in details the major elements of the research design. This chapter consists of 5 sections which are Population and Sampling, Site of the Study, Data Gathering Instruments, Procedure and Method of Analysis. At the end of this chapter, a conclusion will be provided.
3.1 Research Design
Qualitative research is viewed as being more interpretive, artistic, systematic, theory-driven and concerned primarily with process, rather than outcomes or products (Fraenkel and Wallen, 2006). The reason for implementing qualitative research is to gain data regarding the respondents' reasons, achievements and challenges faced for opting I-Learn Class Portal in studies. A complete set of questionnaire will be designed based on prior study in order to discover the students' responds towards the portal. This questionnaire will be distributed and answered based on the respondents' views. Most of the time, in the qualitative research, the researcher is the primary instrument for data collection and analysis (Silverman, 2000). Quanititative research is viewed as being more objective and value-free, possessing a fixed format and focusing on survey, and hard data (Fraenkel and Wallen, 2006).
A mixed mode of quantitative and qualitative research is chosen as it is suitable to achieve the objectives listed in the study.
3.1.1 Population and Sampling
The type of this study is correlational and it falls under the quantitative research. This is indicated by the title itself which there is clearly stated that there is a relationship between variables (the I-Learn Class Portal usage and the students' achievement) which to be looked for. Thus, this research seeks to understand the frequency level of I-Learn Class Portal usage among the Part 8 TESL students (full-time) at UiTM Shah Alam, Seksyen 17, Shah Alam, Selangor. They are undergraduate students which will be chosen specifically later; are the most suitable correspondents due to the known fact that they will be using I-Learn Class Portal as part of their learning process as it helps them to assist their studies.
It is interesting to study their I-Learn Class Portal usage behavior because how the frequency level of I-Learn Class Portal usage contributes to their achievement in studies. This sample will be chosen through Probability Sampling: Cluster Sampling. This is for the reason that; it is simpler than Random Sampling because it is based within the groups observation via questionnaires. This group has similar characteristics - they are in Part 8 and using the I-Learn Class Portal independently and have been experiencing using the portal for almost 4 years.
3.1.2 Site of the Study
This research will be conducted at the Faculty of Education, UiTM Shah Alam, Seksyen 17, Shah Alam, Selangor. Hence, the TESL students will be reached easily for the distribution of the questionnaires. The questionnaires will be distributed for the four classes in Part 8 - U8A, U8B, U8C and U8D. The researcher will appoint a research assistant for each class to help distribute and collect the questionnaires accordingly.
3.1.3 Data Gathering Instruments
The main instrument that will be used for the data collection is a self-constructed questionnaire. Therefore, the questionnaires will be distributed to the students who are in the 8th Semester.
The questionnaire will be divided into 4 sections - Section A, Section B, Section C and Section D. Basically, in Section A will be asking the demographic profile of the correspondent - their gender and age. In Section B, there will be questions related to the students' I-Learn Class Portal usage and frequency pattern. Next in Section C will be the 10 rating - scale questions (the LIKERT scale) to determine their choices by circling the answers. This section may determine the reason why and how the I-Learn Class Portal usage affects their achievement in studies. In Section D, there will be structure questions asking for the correspondents' ideas and opinion about this I-Learn Class Portal usage at tertiary level. This is to indicate their perspective towards the I-Learn Class Portal.
The questionnaires will be distributed to the several spots as stated above to the possible correspondents. The questionnaires will be answered randomly by them. All the correspondents' questionnaires will be collected as soon as they have completed all the 4 sections and it is confidential. Then, each item will be analyzed to determine the results of the study.
The results will be presented in graphs, charts or tables accordingly and appropriately after the analyzing stage. Then, conclusion will be made and the research will be summarized.
3.1.5 Method of Analysis
The data will be first analyzed by the research in order to answer the research questions as stated in the first chapter. Then, the data will be gathered and counted in the descriptive statistics. The results were then finalized by the researcher by gathering the data. The findings of the results will be tabulated and converted into tables, graphs and written essay form. Next, the mean average score for the LIKERT scale questions will be calculated. The results would yield the information required for the purpose of this study.
In this chapter, the researcher has already outlined the main aspects of this research. These aspects which have been identified, specified and described are for the purpose on how this research will be conducted later on.