‘It was a dream, and it happens’: Saudi academics’ discursive construction of blended learning integration: CHAT-inspired DBR

  • Sahar Alghanmi

Student thesis: Phd


This study aims to understand how Saudi academics construct meaning about Blended Learning (BL) integration in their teaching activities. It grew from the importance of conducting baseline research that moves beyond repeating or reinforcing existing practices. Design-Based Research, matched with different stages of the evolution of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT-inspired DBR) was chosen as a methodological framework, because it presents activities as stages – analysis, design, implementation and reflection about principles – that enable access to more real-world practical data. This brings new insights into the development and knowledge generation experienced by academics in everyday practices and how they expand knowledge about BL as a new concept. The findings of this study contribute to a growing body of knowledge in the field of BL in higher education. It adds more understanding about academics’ construction of the students’ community, considering students’ beliefs, motivation and emotional and social support at all levels as vital factors to ensure academics’ success in integrating BL. Moreover, it demonstrates universities must implement specific institutional support as a way to minimise the gap between the real and anticipated practices. Well-organised and quality professional development helps sustained quality practice of BL; importantly, where universities’ strategic orientation of BL contradicts academics’ orientation, strategy needs to be reformed so academics can play an active role applying their creative version of BL practice. From the construction of tool-mediated BL it is evident that tools in academics’ activities constitute a central discourse; as academics developed more knowledge they experienced conflicting professional needs between the vagueness of BL and the need to move on from traditional-based teaching practice. The lack of instructional design knowledge contributes to this feeling. Yet these academics, with minimum university support, were able to implement BL and its non-traditional approaches quite effectively. Furthermore, the transformative agency is shown to be an integral part of the activity, as it is the subjects who drive the activity. Academics’ use of tool-mediated activities to break away from the particular frame of action is understood as transformative agency; thus they initiate commitment to transform their activity, embracing more possibilities for expansive learning. It can be said that BL as an object is an expansion of the academics’ professional agency. Thus, this thesis’s contribution to knowledge is twofold; first, it is hoped that the research findings will make a contribution to the implementation of BL in higher education. These findings will help stakeholders understand patterns of struggle caused by contradictions for academics planning to teach using BL and what kinds of support will be most beneficial. The study also has implications for policy-makers who influence legislation governing the kinds of faculty preparation appropriate for university students. The study suggests several areas to be investigated in the future. Second, it aims to methodologically advance baseline research through the integration of CHAT for different purposes in different stages of DBR, where multiple qualitative methods of data collection are employed to be responsive to the needs of these stages. In addition the analytical framework of Discursive Psychology (DP) adds to the understanding of the ways in which academics construct the meaning of BL, which in turn reveals what discourses surround how professional agency is practiced and can underpin the change from traditional to BL teaching. This analytical framework of DP helps reveals how contradictions are constructed within academics’ discourses and how emotion and agency are formed from these contradictions.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGary Motteram (Supervisor) & Pauline Prevett (Supervisor)

Cite this