Student Perceptions of Online Engagement




online learning, post-secondary education, higher education, students, regional university, engagement, distance education


This paper reports on research that extends knowledge about higher education students’ perceptions of online engagement. In particular, the study aimed to identify what students thought engagement was and how they experienced it. Understanding students’ views about online engagement will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the topic and should assist instructional designers to support academic staff to develop online courses that are more likely to engage their students. Using a mixed-methods approach, the study found that students felt most engaged with learning when doing practical, hands-on activities. Additional findings from the qualitative and quantitative data are highlighted, with some differences between the students’ perceptions in the different types of data, particularly concerning social engagement. This suggests that further research is warranted. The paper offers several practical implications for student learning.

Author Biographies

Petrea Redmond, University of Southern Queensland

Petrea Redmond is a Professor of Educational Technology and the Associate Head of School, Research in the School of Education at the University of Southern Queensland. Her research is situated in interrelated fields of technology enhanced learning. She has published and co-published in several international refereed books, journals and conference proceedings. Petrea has received outstanding conference paper awards at international conferences; along with faculty, university and national awards for research and teaching. She has been a lead editor and associate editor for the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET).  She is currently the Associate Chair, Consultative Council, Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) and is on the Executive committee for Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE).

Megan Alexsen, University of Southern Queensland

Dr Megan Axelsen is a Project office for strategic academic Projects.  She has a discipline background in Tourism.

Suzanne Maloney, University of Southern Queensland

Associate Professor Suzanne Maloney's base discipline is Accounting. She has a particular interest in exploring engagement strategies that discipline.

Joanna Turner, University of Southern Queensland

Dr Joanna Turner is a Senior Lecturer (Physics) in the School of Mathematics, Physics and Computing. She has an interest in engaging students within this discipline.

Alice Brown, University of Southern Queensland

Dr Alice Brown is a Senior Lecture in Early Childhood Education in the School of Education at the University of Southern Queensland.  She is an innovative and award-winning educator who leads practice and research focused on advancing learning, teaching and student success through online engagement.  She has co-written numerous books, chapters and papers addressing online pedagogy, combining nudging and course learning analytics to increase engagement with non-engaged students

Marita Basson, University of Southern Queensland

Associate Professor Marita Basson is the Associate Dean, Learning, Teaching and Student Success in the Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences.  Her base discipline is Urban and Regional Planning where she explores online pedagogical approaches to increase student engagement.

Linda Galligan, University of Southern Queensland

Linda Galligan is an Associate Professor with the Faculty of Health Engineering and Sciences at USQ and is currently Head of School in the School of Mathematics, Physics and Computing with over 30 years' experience in the sector. She has taught first year mathematics and statistics, and has strong links with schools providing mathematics programs and activities for students and teachers. Her previous roles at USQ have included academic support (e.g. The Learning Centre) and Enabling Programs (in mathematics for both domestic and international students). Her research includes language and mathematics; students' and lecturers' perceptions of student preparation for numeracy demands of university; developing a model of embedding academic numeracy in university programs; the use of Tablet and related technology to effectively teach mathematics; and using modelling to improve pre-service teachers' deep understanding of mathematics. She recently led a USQ Learning and Teaching Commissioned project on nudging and using real-world videos to improve student engagement which involved multidisciplinary team.
As part of the Senior Leadership Group of USQ and a member of the Board of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI), she has a strong understanding and appreciation of the broad policy context in which the Australian higher education sector operates. She is also actively involved in linkages to schools through her AMSI connections and service teaching into education programs. As Head of School she has a keen interest in developing employability skills of science students and has been involved in the Deans of Sciences Work Integrated Learning meetings and so is connected to the needs of the labour market.

Jill Lawrence, University of Southern Queensland

Professor Jill Lawrence is the Head of School for the School of Humanities and Communication.  she has an interest in first-year experiences and student engagement in the humanities and social sciences.

Robyn Henderson, University of Southern Queensland

Honorary Associate Professor Robyn Henderson works within the School of Education.  Her base discipline is English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy. Robyn explores online engagement across disciplines.


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Section II