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Academic Support Using a Blended Learning Approach

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Giving students academic support
using a blended learning approach
Pam Sherlock School of Nursing &
Midwifery 0161 295 2860
Pam Sherlock
4 Areas for consideration:
пЃ±How can we identify and support students
with special needs via blended learning?
пЃ±Appropriately manage our time in a 24/7
пЃ±Give sensitive and appropriate feedback
via email?
пЃ±Consider what information about student
contact should be maintained and in what
format it should be stored?
Pam Sherlock
Reasons to consider this
research proposal
• Although until recently, there has been a big
push to recruit more nursing students, it is
estimated that one in four student nurses
abandon their training (Hall 2006)
• The failure of nursing students to complete the
programmes in Britain costs the NHS ВЈ57
million a year (Hall 2006)
• The quality and clinical relevance of nurse
education programmes can have a
considerable impact on the retention of
students (Por and Barriball 2008)
Pam Sherlock
Backdrop to the research question
– changes and challenges
пЃ± Increased use of VLE, emails, mobile phones and voicemail
пЃ± Changing style of teaching and learning (less face-to-face contact
more blended learning)
пЃ± Our nursing students combine theoretical study with clinical
placements (shift work) + part time jobs
пЃ± Many of our nursing students have work/life balance issues
пЃ± Widening participation and increased desire to recruit students
from varying ethnic and cultural groups brings a rich blend of
students from many backgrounds. But this brings challenges…
Pam Sherlock
1) Students with special needs
пЃ±Students who may have dyslexia or other major
problems with the way that they write
пЃ±Students who demonstrate that English is not
their first language and who appear to have
difficulties in academic writing (Race 2007)
The “vulnerable” student where personal issues
impact on their academic work (Por and Barriball
пЃ±International students may bring to the
programme differing cultural, religious and
emotional issues that may affect their ability to
study (Wheeler and Birtler 1995, Race 2007)
Pam Sherlock
(2) Managing the 24/7 culture
пЃ±We have to make decisions about how our
students communicate with us
пЃ±Student expectations are that they email us and
expect a very quick response in return
Many students leave their work until the “last
minute” and then get very frustrated when we
may not be able to give feedback in time for
пЃ±We give supervision to a large number of
Pam Sherlock
(3) Communication by email
пЃ±Annotating and giving feedback takes
much time, and there is always the
concern as to how much “help” you give
пЃ±If the feedback is so extensive, how can
you return the annotated work in a
manner that is supportive and positive?
пЃ±Etiquette for communicating
Pam Sherlock
(4) Documentation of student contact
As we have moved to a “paperless”
environment and now use our VLE so
much, how do we maintain student
пЃ±Do we need to maintain records in the
first place?
пЃ±How do we share this information and
how does this “fit in” with Data Protection
Pam Sherlock
What I have tried out so far…
In order to have a concordant
relationship with a student and
to give effective academic
пѓј Ideally, you have to have at
least one face-to-face meeting
in order to negotiate how you
will work together
пѓј Its important to not only
discuss the assignment, but to
find out the student’s
strengths and weakness
пѓј Establish how you will
communicate and set
parameters. Be assertive as
to the “cut off” point for your
Pam Sherlock
More thoughts..
 Don’t expect that using VLE
and emails is an easy option
 Set aside time to do “email
tutorials” in the same way you
would do face-to-face tutorials
пѓј Devise methods of recording
your contact but be sure to
discuss this with the student
so that they can give their
пѓј Keep all emails/details of
contact – consider hard
пѓј Always copy the student into
the emails and be transparent
Pam Sherlock
пѓј Do not give extensive
feedback just in the form of an
annotated email (if its obvious
that there is a major problem)
– this has to be done face-toface. Consider visiting
student in placement
пѓј Seek early support for the
student from other services
and agencies
пѓј Consider using a staff shared
drive to file student
information (but it needs to be
secure and conform to data
protection issues)
Pam Sherlock
Taking the question forward
пЃ¶Applying for funding to work on this
пЃ¶Potential and possibility of
Interprofessional Working
пЃ¶Consider what else might be done to
improve the student experience
Pam Sherlock
Crouch, R., Barrett,R.,(2006). Issues for online personal tutoring: Staff perceptions from
an online distance learning programme as cited in: Thomas, L., Hixenbaugh, P.,
(Eds),(2006) Personal Tutoring in Higher Education. Great Britain. Trentham
Hall, S., (2006). One in four student nurses abandons study. The Guardian, 15
February 2006. Available at: (Last
accessed 17th June 2008).
Por, J., Barriball, L., (2008). The Personal Tutor’s role in pre-registration nursing
education. British Journal of Nursing. Vol 17, No 2. 99 – 103.
Race, P., (2007). The Lecturer’s Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Assessment, Learning and
Teaching. Great Britain. Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.
University of Salford AQA(2007/08) Personal Tutoring Role and Responsibilities and
Code of Practice. Available at: (Last accessed 17th June 2008)
Wheeler, S., Birtle, J., (1993). A Handbook for Personal Tutors. Great Britain. The
Society for Research into Higher Education.
Pam Sherlock
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