Engagement Matters: Student Perceptions on the Importance of Engagement Strategies in the Online Learning Environment


  • Florence Martin University of North Carolina Charltote
  • Doris U Bolliger University of Wyoming




Online Learning, Student Engagement, Engagement Strategies, Interaction Framework


Student engagement increases student satisfaction, enhances student motivation to learn, reduces the sense of isolation, and improves student performance in online courses. This survey-based research study examines student perception on various engagement strategies used in online courses based on Moore’s interaction framework. One hundred and fifty five students completed a 38-item survey on learner-to-learner, learner-to-instructor, and learner-to-content engagement strategies. Learner-to-instructor engagement strategies seemed to be most valued among the three categories. Icebreaker/introduction discussions and working collaboratively using online communication tools was rated the most beneficial engagement strategy in the learner-to-learner category, whereas sending regular announcements or e-mail reminders and providing grading rubrics for all assignments was rated the most beneficial in learner to instructor category. In the student-content category, students mentioned working on real world projects and having discussions with structured or guiding questions were the most beneficial. This study also analyzed age, gender, and online learning years of experience differences on their perception of engagement strategies. The results of the study have implications for online instructors, instructional designers, and administrators who wish to enhance engagement in the online courses.

Author Biography

Florence Martin, University of North Carolina Charltote

I am an Associate Professor in the Instructional Systems Technology program at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. I received my Doctorate and Master's in Educational Technology from Arizona State University. I have a bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Bharathiyar University, India. Previous to my current position, I taught at University of North Carolina Wilmington for seven years. I also worked on instructional design projects for Shooolini University, Viridis Learning, Maricopa Community College, University of Phoenix, Intel, Cisco Learning Institute, and Arizona State University. I worked as a co-principal investigator on the Digital Visual Literacy NSF grant working with Maricopa Community College District in Arizona and with Usability Security with Computing and Information Systems at UNCC. My research focuses on designing and integrating online learning environments (OLE) to improve learner motivation and engagement to achieve effectiveness in learning. I served as the President of the Multimedia Production Division at AECT from 2012-2013 and I am the 2016-2017 president-elect for Division of Distance Education at AECT.


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Learner Engagement