Students in Online Course Value Engagement Strategies that Involve Learner-Instructor Interactions

Students in Online Course Value Engagement Strategies that Involve Learner-Instructor Interactions

What is this Research About?

Engagement strategies can be used in online courses to improve students’ motivation and achievement of learning outcomes, and to create a sense of community. In this study, researchers investigated student perceptions of various engagement strategies used in online courses. The research was based on a framework where student engagement is developed through interactions in three categories: interactions between learners (learner-learner), interactions between learners and the instructor (learner-instructor), and interactions between learners and course content (learner-content).

What did the Researchers Do?

The researchers surveyed 155 students from eight universities in the United States. The majority of students were graduate level students in the education field. In the online survey, students scored 29 engagement strategies from 1=very unimportant to 5=very important. The engagement strategies were divided into three categories based on the type of interaction involved, either learner-learner, learner-instructor, or learner-content. The survey included three open-ended questions where students could discuss the strategies they found the most or least valuable and other strategies not included in the survey. The survey also collected demographic data.

What did the Researchers Find?

The average score for all engagement strategies was greater than three, indicating that students thought strategies from all three categories of interaction were at least somewhat important. The researchers found that strategies involving learner-instructor interactions had the highest overall average score. The strategies from each category with the highest average score were: students introduce themselves with an icebreaker discussion (learner-learner), instructor sends or posts regular announcements and reminders (learner-instructor), and students work on realistic scenarios to apply content (learner-content). Based on the demographic data, younger students and those with less experience with online courses valued regular announcements more highly.

How to Implement this Research in Your Classroom

When designing or facilitating online courses, instructors can choose engagement strategies that will foster learner-learner, learner-instructor, and learner-content interactions. In this study, students valued learner-instructor interactions and noted that they wanted instructors to be supportive and communicative. Students valued learner-instructor engagement strategies such as regular announcements and reminders, rubrics for all assignments, a forum for questions about the course, checklists, and using students’ names in discussion forums. Instructors can also consider the number of online courses students have previously taken when choosing engagement strategies. In this study, students who had taken fewer online courses valued regular announcements and informal opportunities to interact with their peers.

→  Citation

Martin, F., & Bolliger, D.U. (2018). Engagement matters: Student perceptions on the importance of engagement strategies in the online learning environment. Online Learning, 22(1), 205-222. doi:10.24059/olj.v22i1.1092

→  Keywords

  • Online Learning
  • Student Engagement
  • Engagement Strategies

Creative Commons by logo This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Canada License

Snapshot Writer: Mara Goodyear

Snapshot Publication Date: 2021

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