Blended learning course development at Western Illinois University: meeting the needs of the first-generation college student in a hybrid class

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010: 4:45 PM
B214 (GWCC)
Redina L. Herman, Western Illinois Univ., Macomb, IL

There are a number of resources for creating and implementing a hybrid or blended teaching modality in introductory-level atmospheric sciences courses. Most of the literature on this subject focuses on teaching large class sections, often at research universities. This paper discusses the creation and implementation of a hybrid learning class with a strong sense of community at Western Illinois University, a teaching university with smaller classes and a unique set of challenges. The Introduction to Weather and Climate course meets the General Education: Natural Sciences requirement for a Bachelor's degree and a significant number of students enrolled in this course are first-generation college students. The student demographic at Western Illinois University is also unique. About 60% of the students come from the Chicago area and most of the remaining students come from rural Illinois. Western's unique demographic alone would make it a challenge to create a successful hybrid experience while developing a sense of class community, but the fact that a significant number of these students (from both areas!) are first-generation college students means that extra care must be taken in developing and delivering a hybrid experience to make the class interesting, challenging (without losing the students altogether) and meaningful for all students. Strategies for overcoming the challenges of teaching the Introduction to Weather and Climate course as a hybrid class at Western Illinois University will be presented.