Engaging Learners: A Digital Best Practice

Engaging Learners: A Digital Best Practice

Anita Chadha (University of Houston – Downtown, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9438-3.ch011
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This chapter examines innovative online peer engagement collaboration across geographic regions. This chapter has two parts. Part 1 discusses the research that peer deliberations on a collaborative website leads to academically reflective engagement among student peers and students and the content. Statistically proven results are provided from the past 11 years in that their academically reflective interactions lead students to personalize, extend, and push each other to examine and re-examine academic ideas and content in these online spaces. Part 2 of this chapter provides cross disciplinary educators reasons to and ways by which to incorporate peer engagement in their face-to-face, hybrid, or online class along with a step-by step approach for educators across disciplines to implement as an innovative means to engage students in academic deliberation.
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Part One

Why Collaborative Learning Through Peer Engagement?

For pedagogically viable education in this digital age an innovative pedagogy for online environments is student engagement through peer deliberative strategies. Peer student engagement implies a relationship that is mutually beneficial to each student participant, which involves the sharing of knowledge, ideas and experiences among them. Peer engagement is a process where students reflect on an issue, carefully listen to the ideas and arguments expressed by others, respond, revisit discussion and participate in interactive dialogues with their peers in a time and manner that is convenient to them. In their engagement with peers, they consider the arguments of others and question and reconsider their own viewpoints by engaging with their peers even when it places their own views in doubt (Boud, 2001; Eveland et al., 2003; Kenski & Stroud, 2006; Stitzlein, 2010). Throughout the engagement process, they ask insightful and respectful questions that seek future information, clarification of the issue, or challenge a participants’ viewpoints to future deliberation of an issue (Bozanta & Mardikyan, 2017; Chu et al., 2017). This type of “structured academic controversy” is a way to engage students about contentious issues (Guttman, 2000, p. 75), and in their deliberations to consider alternative solutions and potential consequences, while developing critical reasoning skills about an issue furthering academic content.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Best Practice: Peer engagement is a best practice for online education as it bolsters purposeful inquiry, student-centered learning environments, and can be applied across a variety of disciplines and class types, whether they are a face-to-face, hybrid, or online.

Virtual Engagement: Engagement that involves students interacting with each other online.

Undergraduate Engagement: undergraduate engagement online are aimed at providing positive learner experiences including active learning opportunities, such as participating in collaborative group work, having students facilitate presentations and discussions, sharing resources actively, creating course assignments with hands-on components, and integrating case studies and reflections.

Virtual Education: This is instruction where both the instructor and student are separated by time or space, or both, and the course content is provided through university course management applications, multimedia resources, the Internet, videoconferencing, etc.

Virtual Pedagogy: Pedagogy in a virtual (a)synchronous learning platform to educate students in a time and manner of their choosing.

Graduate Engagement: Graduate engagement is engagement with peer, akin to a graduate seminar, with like-minded greater experiences, discussing academic materials, building upon research and building their network to gain important career connections.

Multiple Levels of Engagement: When students engage with their peers in various ways such as challenging, correcting each other’s responses, clarifying their own positions, arguing, debating, agreeing and disagreeing with each other furthering engagement with the content.

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