The work is premised on two main research questions: 1) what is the conceptual framework and implementation protocol of blended curriculum in social work in the Chinese context? 2) How would the effectiveness of blended social work courses be evaluated?
Method: 1) A cross-university collaborative for implementing blended learning referenced five government funded universities with a social work program in Hong Kong to develop a reflection-based, user-oriented pedagogical model for social work education.
2) The project adopted a monitoring mechanism that involved multiple methods with both quantitative and qualitative evaluations in respect of the major deliverables to determine the project effectiveness.
Results: Fifteen courses of five social work programs in Hong Kong are used to create a blueprint for blended learning in social work curriculum in the Hong Kong Chinese context.
The results from the post-test indicated that the students highly regarded the eLearning materials and their subjective evaluation on experience with eLearning materials is positive, with an overall satisfaction of 4.76 (SD=.95) on a 6-point scale. The mean scores of the items for their experience range from 4.43 to 4.76.
The result of the Critical Thinking Disposition Scale indicated that the score for critical thinking is significantly higher between the pre-test (M=18.66, SD=2.63) and post-test (M=19.46, SD= 3.05), which is significant at t= 3.86; p<.001.
The subjective evaluation results indicated that the adoption of online learning and a blended approach help to enhance student participation (t=3.47, p<0.001) and learning motivation (t=3.13, p<0.01). The results also indicated that eLearning makes the course more interesting (t=2.89, p<0.01).
The objective evaluations used a third-party blind review which showed that 6 out of the 8 indicators have a significantly improved mean score between pre-test and post-test. Among the six indicators, the score of the overall learning environment (t=-3,46, p<.001) and critical thinking (t=-3.39, p<.001) substantially improved after adding the eLearning materials. The interest and enthusiasm (t=-3.04, p<0.01), positive body language (t=-2.68, p<0.05), interactive learning (t=-2.48, p<0.05), and overall engagement (t=-2.3, p<0.05) of the students showed a significant improvement.
Conclusions and Implications: The results offer a prominent conceptual framework and an implementation protocol in social work higher education in the Chinese context. The positive response from students on the pedagogical and design elements illustrates the great importance of taking the problems of online learning into account and design in retrospect which applies to the majority of present-day online academic courses.
In fact, the current study offers a relevant reference for the future development of blended learning not only in social work in Hong Kong, but also the Chinese context, especially in the post-pandemic era.