Lack of Student Engagement Within Online Learning

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Problem Statement

The effectiveness of online learning primarily depends on the level of student engagement, and a lack thereof is detrimental to the overall process. The 21st century offers a variety of technological advancements, which may significantly improve the process of learning if implemented correctly. The concept of online learning is widely examined and implemented nowadays, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Paulsen and McCormick (2020) say that online learning shows the fastest growth rate in the United States. Ideally, a high level of student engagement is guaranteed through their motivation to learn and willingness to follow their teachers’ instructions, positively contributing to the learning outcome (Gray & DiLoreto, 2016). On the other hand, Kahn et al. (2017) state that student engagement in the online learning environment has been suboptimal, Moreover, the degree of retention following such studies is reported to be lower compared to more traditional forms of education. Therefore, lack of student engagement is declining within online learning, and there are multiple factors contributing to the development of this tendency.

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Overall, there are several aspects that prevent student engagement in online activities from reaching optimal levels. First, online learning commitment might be less of a priority for students due to its nature of instruction being primarily independent (Kahn et al., 2017). Some students are facing difficulties with learning asynchronously. This is in the sense that they must be self-efficient with their studies to be independent with their learning. Indeed, when a student is not present in the classroom, they are more likely to engage in other activities. As a result, their level of attention toward the learning process may decrease and impede the process. Regards studying, especially at the level of elementary and middle schools, is a process of paramount importance, forming the individual’s personal and professional competencies. Nevertheless, students usually experience online learning in their homes, as opposed to at a childcare facility or another person’s home. As a result, a familiar environment where other important or interesting tasks exist may distract them and lower their engagement with the process.

Secondly, elementary and middle school students may demonstrate lower engagement levels if modern technological capabilities of online learning are not fully utilized. Combs (2020) highlights the importance of diverse learning methods, such as how to teach online, and materials in online education, which serve to promote students’ creativity and interest. In the case of online studies, students and teachers are not present in the same room at a particular time. In other words, there is a lack of direct personal interaction, which limits teachers’ capabilities in terms of non-verbal communication. Combs (2020) refers to discussion boards, polls, and multimedia formats as valuable instruments enhancing student engagement. Nevertheless, some teachers continue working in the same manner as they always have been, and do not adapt to teaching online. Traditional methods of student engagement used in conventional learning do not always prove as useful in the electronic environment.

Finally, online learning often entails a level of isolation, which is not present in the case of conventional classroom schooling. According to Martin and Bolliger (2018), while learners’ interaction with the instructors remains limited in this scenario, learner-to-learner communication is virtually non-existent. Socializing is an important component of education, and it is particularly crucial in elementary and middle schools, where children acquire a basic understanding of social interaction. An online learning environment, as it is, offers few opportunities for students to engage with their peers. In this respect, this can lead to a sense of isolation and boredom, which negatively affects their engagement with the process (Martin & Bolliger, 2018). In my experience, conventional schools promote healthy competition among students as a way of motivating them to excel in their studies. This allows for students to compete against one another in a face-to-face environment. When this occurs, a students’ drive rises for them to be the “winner”. Therefore, this can push a student to become better & want to know more about what is being taught to them.

Definitions of Key Terms

Student engagement: The amount of effort, attention, and commitment demonstrated by students throughout their learning process (Kahn et al., 2017).

Online learning: Student is either synchronous or asynchronous learning anywhere other than their school institution, and it is done with technology, such as a Chromebook, tablet, or computer (Martin & Bolliger, 2018).

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Critical Analysis of Research Articles

Article 1 Article 2 Article 3
Author/s (year) Lu (2020) Rashid & Asghar (2016). Ding, Kim, & Orey (2017).
Title of Journal Education Journal Computers in Human Behavior Computers & Education
Name the specific Research Design. Archival quantitative data study Online student survey Practical trial study
Research Question What strategies can be implemented in online learning in order to retain an optimal level of student engagement and satisfaction? How can learning outcomes be improved through the implementation of modern technology? How do gamified online discussions promote student engagement?
Main Findings/claims Quality interactions and feedback with advisors, professors, and administration allowed students to gain confidence and increased the level of further engagement. Modern technological advancements have a positive impact on students’ engagement in studies and promote self-directed learning. Academic results are influenced indirectly through the factors mentioned above. Particular game elements implemented in online learning positively affect student engagement. They include such features as badges, avatars, and reactions.
What evidence do they provide? Data were collected through NSSE results and analyzed using ANOVA, confirming previous findings. Evidence presented in the research supports the author’s arguments discussed in the article. Survey results are analyzed through three scales: Media and Technology Usage and Attitude Scale (MTUAS), Self-Rating Scale of Self-Directed Learning (SRSSDL), and student version of Utrecht’s Work Engagement Scale (UWES-S). The evidence is presented in the form of practical trial results. It was conducted by the authors and documented in the article.
Internal validity Yes, the study used relevant, up-to-date information in order to evaluate the effectiveness of proposed strategies in practice. All data are presented, adding credibility to the findings. Yes, the study relies on three different scales in order to guarantee the validity of results. Yes, the authors used appropriate methods of research and observation. The process is documented and presented.
Location The United States of America. Worldwide via the Internet Georgia, United States of America
Type of Sampling Purposive sampling – the study analyzed pre-existing data from the NSSE and extracted relevant information for the study. Convenience sampling – the study used the survey form and collected information from available students. Purposive sampling – the authors focused on their students who were available for the trial.
Describe the Subjects The research considered 64 college students, including 22 first-year students and 42 senior-year students. 761 international students who use modern technology Students from Georgia and work directly with the authors.
External validity The external validity is limited, as this article focused on college-level students and not schools. However, it appears possible to generalize the findings, as they can be applied to education as a whole. Yes, information technology and online learning are inseparable, meaning that the results of this study form a relevant reference point. Yes, while the authors teach at the University of Georgia, the findings concern the gamified format of learning. This method can be effectively used with school students of all ages.
Implications The results of this study can be used in practice through an increased level of interaction with students in the process of online learning. I will be able to devote increased attention to effective communication and expect positive results in terms of engagement. The findings presented in this article provide an evidence-based framework that would allow me to choose the correct methods of increasing engagement. While online learning already utilizes technology, the article provides justification for the use of additional resources. Gamification of the online learning environment is an instrument that I can use with secondary school students. This method will add a creative touch to the process and promote student engagement.

Synthesis and Implications

Effective Student-Teacher Communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of modern human activities in a variety of settings. Education is a sphere in which direct human contact is implied at all stages, meaning that there is always a certain degree of communication involved. Nevertheless, the exact nature of the interaction varies depending on a variety of personal and objective factors. Teachers may often refrain from extended contact with their students outside the curriculum, whereas the latter respond accordingly. It is possible that this tendency has appeared due to a lack of understanding of how the interaction should be handled. In other words, both students and teachers do not see the point of communication for the sake of communication, limiting their contact with classroom activities. Nevertheless, interaction appears to be particularly important in the case of an online learning environment. When lessons take place in a classroom, as usual, there are some non-verbal means of communication involved. In the case of online education, direct contact remains limited by its oral form, making relations more distant. As a result, students no longer feel engaged in the process, quickly losing their interest.

On the other hand, there must be a clear framework for the nature of the interaction. As mentioned prior, there is little or no interest in pointless exchanges of words, which is why it is important to identify the objective and possible effect of communication. Lu (2020) investigated the problem of insufficient student engagement in the learning process from the point of view of quality interaction. According to the presented findings, students demonstrate a higher level of positive response when they are given appropriate, relevant feedback. This research encourages teachers and instructors to devote more attention to the way they discuss the process with their students. It is important to go beyond simple discussions of mistakes and grade announcements. Lu (2020) states that effective communication in the learning environment suggests that teachers should provide their students with detailed feedback. In addition, it is crucial to emphasize students’ positive results and their efforts. The findings demonstrate that adequate praise and acknowledgment form a positive image of the teacher and the subject. Consequently, students feel properly motivated to remain engaged and maintain their success during future assignments.

Advanced Implementation of Modern Technologies

The 21st century has introduced an unprecedented level of global technological development. Such advancements are widely used across multiple spheres of human activity, including business and health care. It appears that education and schools, in particular, implemented modern technology at a slower pace, as compared to other sectors. However, the Covid-19 pandemic emphasized the importance of modern means of learning and communication in this area. As the majority of schools shifted toward online education in 2020, technology has been actively used in learning. Nevertheless, findings presented by Rashid & Asghar (2016), as well as Ding et al. (2017), demonstrate that the use of computers is merely the foundation because there are immense growth opportunities in this respect. Spoken differently, the concept of e-learning should be seen as the basis upon which new, more advanced techniques will be used. Information technology develops rapidly, and new features are introduced regularly, but the degree to which they are utilized in education varies depending on the willingness and computer literacy of a particular instructor. In order to improve the process on a global scale, the advanced implementation of the modern technological potential must become a norm.

On the other hand, it is important to understand the relation between the use of technology and the learning outcome. The study by Rashid & Asghar (2016) adds a global perspective on the matter, as it was conducted worldwide via the Internet. It explored the ways in which advanced utilization of technology could affect the process of education. Findings suggest that such means of learning do not have a direct impact on academic performance. Nevertheless, they positively correlate with student engagement, as the latter express more interest in technologically advanced learning. These findings underline the complex nature of education, as the process comprises several important interrelated aspects. Since student engagement is the center of attention within the context of the present study, data collected by Rashid & Asghar (2016) appears relevant. Their framework will allow teachers to understand how the learning model they choose will influence the academic performance of their students. It is through increased engagement that better learning outcomes are reached, implying that the advanced use of technology has an indirect yet strong impact.

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At the same time, it is important to determine the correct ways in which the aforementioned findings can be implemented in practice. The range of technological advancements which can be utilized in education is colossal, but it would be incorrect to assume that all of them are equally useful. Ding et al. (2017) researched the impact of gamification on their students’ engagement and performance. Such an approach allows teachers to add diverse, entertaining elements to online learning as a means of promoting creativity and active participation. The study examines the issue within the framework of the online discussion format. Discussion boards serve as effective instruments, using which students can demonstrate their communicative and analytical skills, which is why they are often used during online learning. According to Ding et al. (2017), gamified elements had a highly positive impact in terms of student engagement. The primary forms in which this method was used were interactive progress bars, message reactions, and avatars. All these elements stem directly from social networks and diversify online discussions. Therefore, gamification improves student engagement levels, which, in turn, leads to better academic performance.

Statement of Purpose

In order to address the issue of insufficient student engagement in online learning, I will utilize the model of gamification. Such an approach has already proved useful in my educational environment, as suggested by my experience with the Classcraft game program. Students demonstrated increased levels of engagement when gamification was used, but it requires more personalization. I will conduct the research of particular techniques, to which students of different ages refer better. Based on the findings, I will propose an online learning gamification model, consisting of classification of different means. The model will explore the effect of gamification techniques and effectiveness within the context of e-learning, and it will be distributed in an electronic form via email upon request. Even though there is a variety of applications, which can be used in this case, it seems appropriate to tailor existing programs to the needs of a particular institution. Overall, learning process gamification appears to be a useful instrument that increases student engagement through interactivity and creativity, which is why the proposed model will be useful for teachers of all levels.

References

Combs, A. C. (2020). Success plan for the online learning experience: Student engagement, teacher accessibility, & relationships. Middle Grades Review, 6(2), 1-5.

Ding, L., Kim, C. M., & Orey, M. (2017). Studies of student engagement in gamified online discussions. Computers & Education, 115, 126–142. Web.

Gray, J. A., & DiLoreto, M. (2016). The effects of student engagement, student satisfaction, and perceived learning in online learning environments. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 11(1).

Kahn, P., Everington, L., Kelm, K., Reid, I., & Watkins, F. (2017). Understanding student engagement in online learning environments: The role of reflexivity. Educational Technology Research and Development, 65, 203–218. Web.

Lu, H. (2020). Online learning: The meanings of student engagement. Education Journal, 9(3), 73-79. Web.

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. Web.

Paulsen, J., & McCormick, A. C. (2020). Reassessing disparities in online learner student engagement in higher education. Educational Researcher, 49(1), 20-29. Web.

Rashid, T., & Asghar, H. M. (2016). Technology use, self-directed learning, student engagement and academic performance: Examining the interrelations. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 604–612. Web.

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