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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

A Deeper Understanding of Student Engagement in Blended Learning Through Experience Sampling Methods

Kristine Manwaring (Brigham Young University, USA)
Curtis Henrie (Brigham Young University, USA)
Lisa R Halverson (Brigham Young University, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2015 - 9:10am
Teaching & Learning Effectiveness
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research and Evaluation
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Plaza Ballroom F
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Concurrent Session 4
Virtual Session
Best in Track

Our recent findings from Experience Sampling research deepen our understanding of the dynamic nature of student engagement in blended courses.

Extended Abstract

How do students engage in blended learning courses? Is their engagement constant throughout a course or does it vary by context (face to face or online) and/or by learner type? What are students really doing and thinking as they attend classes and work online? How do students moment-by-moment engagement experiences relate to their end of course satisfaction ratings or to their grades?

These are just some of the questions we sought to answer when we designed our longitudinal research project that spanned courses from two Western university campuses last fall. In order to improve the design of blended learning courses, it is important to understand the learning experience from the point of view of the learner. While holding great potential for increasing student engagement, blended learning courses also require the learner to navigate between different learning contexts - each requiring the learner to employ distinct cognitive, emotional and social strategies - in order to engage with the course content. While engagement is often mentioned in blended learning writings, few blended learning research projects make a rigorous, well-defined analysis of engagement (Halverson, Graham, Spring, Drysdale, & Henrie, 2014), nor is there much scholarly depth on how blended learning experiences are integrated in to a meaningful course experience from the learners perspective (Bliuc, Goodyear, & Ellis, 2007).
We have spent the last year addressing these gaps. In this session we report on a longitudinal investigation of engagement in blended learning courses, addressing two topics:

1. How learner engagement can be conceptualized, studied and understood in blended learning environments. For example, what are the differences in student emotional and cognitive engagement? Do these differences impact how students engage in different delivery modes?

2. How repeated, in-the-moment reports of student engagement collected over a semester relate to final, end of course reports of engagement and satisfaction. Most courses are evaluated with a one-time, end-of-course instrument. It is important to understand how the results of such an instrument compare to the lived experience of students.

Our research is unique in the field of blended learning in two ways: our experience sampling data collection methods and our focus on both emotional and cognitive engagement at the activity level.

First, we used experience sampling methods of data collection to capture student experiences in the moment throughout six university blended learning classes across two university campuses. Five of the six courses were General Education courses _ giving us access to a wide variety of students. All of the instructors of the courses had received previous training and support in teaching in a blended learning environment. Experience Sampling methods capture both internal (thoughts, feelings, mood) and external (date, time, location, companions, activity) dimensions of specific experiences from the point of view of the learner (Hektner, Schmidt, & Csikszentmihalyi 2007; Fleeson, 2007). We collected survey data after a face-to-face learning activity and after an online learning activity from the same students each week of a 16 week semester. Over 1400 surveys were collected, reporting on a wide variety of in-class and online learning activities.

Second, building on an extensive review of the literature, we conceptualized engagement as being context dependent, varying across time and having both cognitive and emotional components(Skinner & Pitzer 2012, Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris 2004, Lawson & Lawson 2012). Doing so allowed us to investigate how these two types of engagement relate to each other in various contexts, as well as how they lead to particular outcomes such as grades and overall course engagement ratings.

Analysis of this rich data set has included Exploratory Factor Analysis, Confirmatory Factor Analysis, Structural Equation Modeling as well as descriptive longitudinal case studies.

We believe this presentation will be of great interest to those hoping to better understand the nature of student engagement in blended learning courses and to those exploring research and evaluation of blended learning designs.

Bliuc, A., Goodyear, P. & Ellis, R. (2007). Research focus and methodological choices in studies into students experiences of blended learning in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 10, 231-244.
Hektner, J.M., Schmidt J.A., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2007). Experience Sampling Method. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Fleeson, W. (2007). Using experience sampling and multilevel modeling to study person-situation interactionist approaches to positive psychology. In A.D. Ong, & M.H.M. Van Dulmen, M.H.M. (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Methods in Positive Psychology (pp. 487-500). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Fredricks, J.A. Blumenfeld, P.C. & Paris, A.H. (2004). School Engagement: Potential of the concept, state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 59-109.
Halverson, L. R., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. J., Drysdale, J. S., & Henrie, C. R. (2014). A thematic analysis of the most highly cited scholarship in the first decade of blended learning research. The Internet and Higher Education, 20, 20-34.
Skinner, E.A. & Pitzer, J.R. (2012). Developmental dynamics of student engagement, coping, and everyday resilience. In S.L. Christenson, A.L. Reschly, & C. Wylie (Eds.) Handbook of research on student engagement (pp.21-44). Boston, MA: Spring US.
Halverson, L. R., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. J., Drysdale, J. S., & Henrie, C. R. (2014). A thematic analysis of the most highly cited scholarship in the first decade of blended learning research. Internet and Higher Education, 20, 20_34. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2013.09.004