Does online engagement matter? The impact of interactive learning modules and synchronous class attendance on student achievement in an immersive delivery model
Keywords:immersive scheduling, online modules, active learning, student engagement, academic success, academic literacies, mixed methods
One Australian public university is radically changing the way it delivers higher education, introducing a 6-week immersive scheduling delivery model across all units and courses. Despite the emerging success of block and immersive models for raising the performance of diverse student cohorts, the design factors underpinning positive outcomes are underexplored. This paper presents a mixed methods study of the impact and value of student engagement with interactive and responsive online content modules and synchronous classes in an immersive scheduling model. The findings indicate that behavioural engagement with online learning modules has a positive effect on academic success and is a significant predictor of a higher final score. Qualitative data indicate several attributes of high-quality online learning modules that students appear to associate with engagement and deeper learning in the immersive model: interactivity, media richness, constructive alignment, flexibility and responsiveness. Synchronous class attendance did not impact final scores; however, students nonetheless valued the opportunity to form safe and supportive communities of inquiry during classes. This study demonstrates that in times of increasing demand for more flexible learning, immersive scheduling models that are founded on active learning principles and embed interactive, responsive, media-rich online learning modules can improve student engagement and performance.
Implications for practice or policy:
- Higher education practitioners should integrate interactive, responsive, media-rich and constructively aligned online learning modules into curricula.
- Synchronous active learning classes that create safe communities of inquiry should be offered alongside options for asynchronous participation.
- Low levels of engagement with online learning modules should prompt follow-up from educators to raise engagement and bolster academic achievement.
- Immersive delivery models are effective curriculum innovations that, when designed with interactive online modules, can support improved academic achievement.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Elizabeth Goode, Johanna Nieuwoudt, Thomas Roche
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