University of Oulu

Promoting engagement in self-paced online language courses : a case study in the context of a MOOC for Learning Arabic

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Author: Shaker, Tharwat1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Pages: 91
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : T. Shaker, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-11-12
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Laru, Jari
Reviewer: Laru, Jari
Vuopala, Essi
Student academic engagement is a very essential aspect of learning and is known to have a direct positive influence on the quality of learning outcomes as well as performance and retention. Thus, promoting opportunities for better engagement in online learning can potentially lead to increased learning. The concept of engagement in the literature overlaps with other concepts such as motivation, self-efficacy, and self-regulation which has some commonalities and differences. Engagement is an immensely complicated phenomenon incorporating students’ emotions, cognition, and behaviors, and is largely influenced by contextual factors. Irrespective of the problematic issues in the clarity of concept, it has a potential as a multidimensional or meta-construct to provide a deeper understanding of how students learn in comparison to relying on a single construct. The aim of this research is to gain a deeper understanding of the factors affecting engagement in a self-paced online language learning context. The research questions are centered on three key variables which are the subject of investigation in this study: student engagement, the self-paced approach of learning, and online language learning. Using a sample of 33–60 participants on a course made up of 19 lessons while following an exploratory approach, semi-structured interviews were carried out as the main source of data in this study and analayzed using qualitative content analysis. Also complemented with a questionnaire survey and learning analytics results in order to ensure data triangulation using multiple sources. Student engagement was investigated both at the lecture and the course level during the progress and completion phases of the students’ learning path, and further analyzed utilizing quantitative statistical tests in the survey, and learning analytics data. The results of this investigation showed that engagement of students in some parts of the course was very high due to the topics being covered, and thus course content was ranked as a top factor promoting engagement. Two more factors, namely the course structure followed by the methods of teaching also engendered positive emotions and raised motivation in students while facilitating cognitive engagement. In addition, video and graphics quality followed by the students’ background and mode of delivery of instruction came in fourth and fifth places respectively in terms of factors affecting engagement in this context. The results of this study have been discussed from a theoretical as well as a practical standpoint in terms of the implications for Instructional Designers, Course Developers and Online Instructors who aim at promoting and enhancing student engagement. The study is valuable because it provides a deeper insight into student engagement in a self-paced online language learning context and the reasons behind individual student’s engagement (or disengagement) as they relate to specific contextual factors. The findings of this study can help in the design of more engaging language learning courses.
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Copyright information: © Tharwat Shaker, 2018. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.