Project in detail - Kylie Archer
Engaging students through reflective online group interactions ...return to abstract
This study explores the impact of student engagement in a blended learning environment on students’ perceptions of effective learning. Since the development of the National Survey of Student Engagement (1999) much work has been done around the effects of student engagement and how students engage in the many aspects of university education (Coates (2007), Bryson and Hand (2007)). According to Krause (2005) “engagement refers to the time, energy and resources students devote to activities designed to enhance learning at university”. Carini et al (2006) suggest that “student engagement is linked positively to desirable learning outcomes such as critical thinking and grades”. Thus it is the responsibility of educators to create activities that encourage in students a sense of engagement so as to foster effective learning. Therefore, in a Higher Education setting, engaging our students in the tasks that lead to these desirable outcomes should be the highest priority in the curriculum design process.
Coates (2007) and Ellis et al (2007) have highlighted the need for student engagement to create successful online learning environments. This study analyses the relationship between collaborative online reflection and student engagement in an undergraduate Unit of Study in Government in the School of Social and Political Sciences in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The curriculum of the Unit of Study combines online group reflective writing and face-to-face interactions. The analysis of students’ perceptions of effective learning will inform an examination of the relationship between online reflective writing and student motivation.
The study aims to answer this question:
How does the opportunity to participate in an online reflective writing group help students engage in their own learning and that of others?
Some of the other key questions that will be answered through this study are:
- What is student engagement? How can we encourage student engagement in a Unit of Study?
- What is reflective writing and how can be used to help to engage students?
- How does sense of community or being a member of a reflective group aid student engagement?
- How does giving students the opportunity to express their own opinion help achieve student engagement?
The purpose of the study is to better understand the relationship between reflection and student engagement.
Desired outcomes for the study:
- Create a model of how to use reflective collaborative writing in online discussions.
- Facilitate change to the model used during the previous semester to accommodate the feedback from staff and students.
- Literature review on student engagement and reflective writing.
- Focus groups- with 13 students to discover what their experience of the task was and understand their perceptions of the online collaborative work.
- Survey of the whole student cohort to explore student perceptions of the effectiveness of the task.
- Interviews with tutors to discuss how they thought the task influenced writing quality in the final written pieces of work.
- Interviews with the UoS coordinator.
- Qualitative analysis of the interviews and focus groups using NVivo to identify student engagement.
Bryson, C., & Hand, L. (2007). The role of engagement in inspiring teaching and learning. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44(4), 349–362.
Carini, R. M., Kuh, G. D., & Klein, S. P. (2006). Student Engagement and Student Learning: Testing the Linkages. Research in Higher Education, 47(1), 1-32.
Coates, H. (2007). A model of online and general campus-based student engagement. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 32(2), 121-141.
Ellis, R., Goodyear, P., O'Hara, A., & Prosser, M. (2007). The university student experience of face-to-face and online discussions: coherence, reflection and meaning. ALT-J, 15(1), 83-97.
Krause, K. (2005). Understanding and promoting student engagement in university learning communities. In Deconstructing the 21 st Century Undergraduate Student: James Cook University Symposium 2005, Sharing Scholarship in Learning and Teaching: Engaging Students.