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Blended Learning to the Rescue: How one Construction Management Program is Mitigating the Risk of COVID-19 in the Classroom

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ASEE 2021 Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference


Waco, Texas

Publication Date

March 24, 2021

Start Date

March 24, 2021

End Date

March 26, 2021

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Paper Authors


Peter D. Rogers P.E. University of Southern Mississippi

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Dr. Pete Rogers is an associate professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to joining the university, he worked at Georgia Southern University, the University of Texas at Tyler, and the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers’ Institute for Water Resources. He also spent several years working throughout Latin America on water and sanitation projects including a term as the national supervisor of USAID-Honduras water reconstruction program.

Pete’s interests are in The Scholarship of Teaching of Learning (SoTL), water and sanitation systems, hydraulics, water resources, public works management, developing country water issues, and and design build delivery systems.

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As universities struggle to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, they find themselves having to balance many conflicting yet interconnected factors. While their priority centers on protecting the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff they must manage this health risk with the need to provide students with effective and productive learning environments. Additionally, there is added pressure to reopen classes for the economic benefit of their campus and of the wider community.

A key element to their success in managing these risks and trade-offs lies in their ability to reinvent their learning environments so that the online instruction facilitated by each institution’s Learning Management Systems (Canvas, Brightspace, Blackboard, etc.) compliments student-teacher and other relationships (OECD, 2020). One such approach involves the use of “blended learning” which combines the convenience of online instructional delivery with traditional in-person classroom instruction. Whereas the online content provides students with information in a manner that is flexible in time, place, and pace, the classroom element provides them with an opportunity to get instructor guidance, collaborate with peers, practice applying concepts, and exploring topics in greater detail. By blending the online and in-class learning elements of a course, the instructor lessons the risk of exposure to COVID 19 by shortening face-to-face instruction time.

This paper summarizes the results of a project in which blended learning was used for a sophomore level “Introduction to Structures” course with an enrollment of approximately 40 students. By blending in-class learning with online learning, the instructor was able to minimize the risk of coronavirus exposure by splitting the students into two equal sized groups that met once a week rather than having all students meet for two sessions every week. The use of smaller groups had the added benefit of facilitating the practice of social distancing. The outcomes of the study revealed several interesting results regarding student reactions to blended learning, the importance of active learning activities in keeping students engaged and motivated , and student perceptions related to the effectiveness of blended learning in protecting their health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

Rogers, P. D. (2021, March), Blended Learning to the Rescue: How one Construction Management Program is Mitigating the Risk of COVID-19 in the Classroom Paper presented at ASEE 2021 Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference, Waco, Texas.

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