National Kaohsiung Hospitality College, Taiwan
The researcher employed the framework of Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2001) to report the ability of college students to think critically, as displayed in a blended learning strategy that combines discussion in a setting face-to-face with communication through computers, and to explore the impact of class discussion on the outcomes of perceived cognitive and social learning. Twenty-six students, with an intermediate level of English proficiency, participated in this eight-week study. Transcripts of messages among students in the discussion board were analyzed and a questionnaire was administrated at the end of the course to ask students about how they perceived the effect of online discussions on their learning and class interaction. The results show that the distribution of messages into cognitive presence categories is similar to that found previously: most messages belonged to the explorative category with a few integration messages, and few triggering events containing no solution messages. Students engaged in interaction and critical thinking, and demonstrated more profound thinking during discussion inside their class than outside. With regard to perceived learning outcomes of students resulting from blended learning, most students agreed that significant cognitive benefits can be gained from discussions via a computer. Learning outcomes of both social and cognitive nature included sharing views and understanding various perspectives. Students reported that they had more opportunities to work together in a learning community.
Key Words: critical thinking abilities, blended learning, in-class online discussion, perceived learning outcomes