Online Strategies for Stimulating Learner Engagement

Online Strategies for Stimulating Learner Engagement

Lynne Orr (William Paterson University, USA & Walden University, USA), Linda Weekley (Walden University, USA), Sharon C. Little (Walden University, USA) and Robert P. Hogan (Walden University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5074-8.ch009

Abstract

Active student engagement in online classes is an important component of retention, pass rates, and student satisfaction. Although online class enrollment has grown steadily over the past several years, student retention is 8% less compared to on-campus courses. Synchronous instructional strategies can encourage online student engagement. In this chapter, the reader will gain an understanding of the benefits of online student engagement as described by three professors using synchronous strategies in their online courses. The increasing global demand for job training, professional development, and affordable education can only be met with online programs. However, asynchronous delivery fails to develop social skills and analytical thinking. The chapter describes innovative, cost effective synchronous approaches, and concludes with suggestions for further research to improve online student success.
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The Importance Of Student Engagement

Academic and social engagement are two aspects of student engagement. Academic engagement relates to active learning or ‘deep’ learning (Thomas, 2012). Social engagement pertains to creating a sense of belonging which provides the student with informal support. When students are academically and socially engaged, their feelings of belongingness increase, and active learning is supported, leading to academic success.

Learner Engagement with Online Courses

Kivlighan et al. (2018) noted that academic success and retention rates continue to be a problem. Cachero-Gonzalez, Medina-Rivilla, Dominguez-Garrido, and Medina-Dominguez (2019) described online learner engagement as the amount of time learners spend on synchronous educational activities. Kucuk & Richardson, 2019 included facilitating discussions and direct instruction as an essential part of course design. Online social presence and open communication in the online classroom leads to group cohesion and emotional expression. Kozan (2016) described cognitive presence as the extent to which the online learner can construct meaning of the material presented. He also suggested that when cognitive presence is central to the student learning process, social engagement will increase.

Charbonneau-Gowdy and Chavez (2019), who conducted a longitudinal study investigating learners’ social engagement in blended learning, stated that real learning is a prerogative, which leads to an engaged learner. The researchers added that real learning is characterized by active engagement in social construction of knowledge, critical thinking, and increased self-directedness. Thus, real learning and learner engagement may improve learner satisfaction and course and program retention.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Belongingness: When a college student feels, they are part of a class, program, or university.

Instructional Strategies for Online Teaching and Learning: The process of implementing instructional strategies through distance education.

Distance Learning: When a student participates in learning from a distance, not face-to-face.

Online Instructional Strategies: Teaching methods used in distance education.

Academic Performance: Student academic success, usually measured by GPA.

Graduate Online Learning: Students who participate in an advanced degree beyond a bachelor’s degree and attend the program through distance learning.

Learner Engagement: Involves a student who feels connected with the learning process, content, faculty, and peers.

College Retention: A measure which includes the number of students who continue their education towards degree completion.

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