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Student interaction with a virtual learning environment: an empirical study of online engagement behaviours during and since the time of COVID-19.

Johnston, Pamela; Zarb, Mark; Moreno-Garcia, Carlos Francisco

Authors



Abstract

This paper presents an experience report of online attendance and associated behavioural patterns during a module in the first complete semester undertaken fully online in the autumn of 2020, and the corresponding module deliveries in 2021 and 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 resulted in a sudden move of most university teaching online, at a global and large-scale level. This, combined with the need to maintain "business as usual" resulted in new levels of student engagement data for largely unchanged pedagogical processes. Engagement data continued to be gathered throughout the subsequent, phased return to face-to-face and hybrid learning, although at a lesser level of granularity. The wealth of student engagement data gathered during this time allows quantitative insights into how student behaviour continued to adapt during and after the enforced online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The anonymous subjects of this case study are computing science students in their final year of undergraduate study. We examine their engagement with the virtual learning environment, including engagement with recorded lecture material, attendance in online sessions and engagement during in-person labs. We relate this to both the students' final grades and the content of the module itself. A number of conclusions are drawn based on this empirical data, relating to observations made by staff and pedagogical theory. There was a moderate, but significant, correlation between engagement in synchronous online lecture sessions and grades during thelockdown phase, but the strength of this correlation has reduced in subsequent years as normality has returned. From monitoring behaviour in online sessions down to minute-by-minute accuracy, it can also be seen that some students strategised their engagement based on sessions they perceived to be most directly contributory to their assessment, placing little value on live guest lecturer sessions. During enforced online learning, the most successful students, on average, engaged with less repeat content than less successful students, instead apparently utilising lecture recordings to "catch up" with missed live lectures.

Citation

JOHNSTON, P., ZARB, M. and MORENO-GARCIA, C.F. 2023. Student interaction with a virtual learning environment: an empirical study of online engagement behaviours during and since the time of COVID-19. In Proceedings of the 2023 IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Frontiers in education conference (FIE 2023),18-21 October 2023, College Station, TX, USA. Piscataway: IEEE [online], article number 10343048. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1109/fie58773.2023.10343048

Conference Name 2023 IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Frontiers in education conference (FIE 2023)
Conference Location College Station, TX, USA
Start Date Oct 18, 2023
End Date Oct 21, 2023
Acceptance Date Apr 2, 2023
Online Publication Date Dec 31, 2023
Publication Date Dec 31, 2023
Deposit Date Jan 6, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jan 19, 2024
Publisher Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Series ISSN 2377-634X
DOI https://doi.org/10.1109/fie58773.2023.10343048
Keywords Online learning; Empirical study; Attendance; Attainment
Public URL https://rgu-repository.worktribe.com/output/2197385

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