The effect of blended learning on student performance (Best Evidence in Brief)

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and this time I picked this study from this biweekly newsletter written up by Winnie Tam in which every element seems to be important:

Li and colleagues recently conducted a meta-analysis to investigate the effects of blended learning on K-12 students’ performance. Blended learning, also known as mixed or hybrid learning, refers to the combination of traditional face-to-face and online learning. A total of 84 studies, published from 2000 to 2020, were included in the meta-analysis.

The synthesized results include:

•           Overall, compared to face-to-face learning only, the blended learning method showed a larger effect (ES = +0.65) with substantial heterogeneity.

•           Effects were significantly different among various student outcome domains. The cognitive domain (e.g., exam scores, ES = +0.74) was the strongest, followed by the affective domain (e.g., satisfaction, motivation, ES = +0.52) and the psychomotor domain (e.g., skill, ability, ES = +0.46).

•           Regarding moderator analysis, no significant difference among blended learning models was found, with flipped classrooms having the largest effect (ES = 0.79), and the lab-rotation having the smallest (ES = +0.30).

•           Different grade levels gained different benefits from the blended learning mode. While kindergarten showed no significant effect (with only 2 studies), both elementary (ES = +0.70) and secondary schools (ES = +0.67) displayed significant improvement.

•           The result of meta-regression showed that there was no significant change of effect sizes across 20 years of studies, even though technology advanced across time.


The result of a publication bias test indicated that there was potential upward bias in the data. One of the possible reasons may be that unpublished studies with insignificant effects were not included in this meta-analysis. Nevertheless, the results of this meta-analysis enrich educators’ understanding of the practice related to effective blended learning in K-12 education.

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