Achievable Student Engagement (Individual and Student-Student) in an online module in Social Psychology

Greer, K., Ryan, Deirdre and Mooney, David (2013) Achievable Student Engagement (Individual and Student-Student) in an online module in Social Psychology. In: 6th Annual Learning Innovation Network Conference – Sustainable Models of Student Engagement – Rhetoric or Achievable? 17th October 2013 in the Ashling Hotel, Dublin., Dublin, Ireland.


A substantial body of research indicates that the probability students will be effective within both traditional (face-to-face or classroom-based) and Computer-Based Learning Environments (CBLE) is a function of their level of Self Regulated Learning (SRL) skills (Zunbrunn, Tadlock & Roberts, 2011; Winters, 2000). Students who do not possess SRL skills demonstrate enhanced probability of distraction, an inability to deal with the material, cognitive overload and importantly for student engagement, issues with goal orientation and intrinsic motivation. Scaffolding can compensate for some deficiencies in SRL. In the case of CBLEs, students also have problems with software and technology (Jiang et al, 2009). Devolder et al (2012) stress a greater need for Scaffolding in CBLEs than in traditional SRL environments This paper reports on the high levels of student performance, individual student engagement and student-student engagement observed in an online ‘immersion-style’ six-credit module in Introductory Social Psychology undertaken over a two-week period in June 2013. The students interacted with the material and each other from remote sites throughout Ireland. The online module embedded design principles that maximized the use of pedagogical, architectural and technological scaffolds in its construction. The bulk of the cognitive and motivational scaffolds were integrated into the content of 34 Learning Activities (both individual and group-based). Administrative scaffolds were provided in part by an Animated Pedagogical Agent; technological scaffolds were inherent in the architecture of the module. On the basis of feedback from five sources (student performance; individual student activity and student-tostudent interactions monitored by count and content; an online survey, an independently-run focus group, and individual student unsolicited commentary), the authors argue that although Student Engagement can often be no more than rhetoric, with the judicious use of scaffolds, Student Engagement is demonstrably achievable in the case of CBLEs

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