Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Engagement and Motivation in MOOCs

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Nov 22, 2011

From Col - see also Beer, Clark, Jones, Indicators of Engagement, which has much of the same content

Most of the research into measuring student engagement prior to the widespread adoption of online, or web based classes, has concentrated on the simple measure of attendance (Douglas & Alemanne, 2007). "Stovall (2003) suggests that engagement is defined by a combination of students’ time on task and their willingness to participate in activities. Krause and Coates (2008) say that engagement is the quality of effort students themselves devote to educationally purposeful activities that contribute directly to desired outcomes."

"Additionally, Chen, Gonyea and Kuh (2008) say that engagement is the degree to which learners are engaged with their educational activities and that engagement is positively linked to a host of desired outcomes, including high grades, student satisfaction, and perseverance. Other studies define engagement in terms of interest, effort, motivation, time-on-task and suggest that there is a causal relationship between engaged time, that is, the period of time in which students are completely focused on and participating in the learning task, and academic achievement (Bulger et al., 2008)."

"A basic tenet of the research into engagement is that students’ activity, involvement and effort in their learning tasks is related to their academic achievement. While there does not appear to be a single definition for engagement, the following definition represents an aggregation of the literature. Engagement is seen to comprise active and collaborative learning, participation in challenging academic activities, formative communication with academic staff, involvement in enriching educational experiences, and feeling legitimated and supported by university learning communities (Coates, 2007, p. 122)."

Vicki Trowler, Student Engagement Literature Review

"Coates (2007, 122) describes engagement as “a broad construct intended to encompass salient academic as well as certain non-academic aspects of the student experience”, comprising the following:
- active and collaborative learning;
- participation in challenging academic activities;
- formative communication with academic staff;
- involvement in enriching educational experiences;
- feeling legitimated and supported by university learning communities."

See also: Examples of positive and negative engagement (p.6)

Table 1. Alignment of Coates’ (2007) definition of engagement and Chickering and Gamson’s seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education

Element of Coates’ (2007) definition of engagement Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education
Active and collaborative learning 2. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students.3. Uses active learning techniques.
Formative communication with academic staff. 1. Encourages contacts between students and faculty.
Involvement in enriching educational experiences 5. Emphasizes time on task.6. Communicates high expectations
Feeling legitimated and supported by university learning communities 1. Encourages contact between students and faculty.2. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students. 4. Gives prompt feedback.

Michael Heise - Director of Distance Learning, Onondaga Community College, Be Aware of Student Engagement - basis in Bloom's Toaxonomy

On-campus engagement may be very different from online engagement. Typical types of engagement, from this report:

- conversation with faculty
- taking notes / reading notes
- collaboration
- serious conversations

Esther Wojcicki: Student Engagement is Key

- why do students drop out? because they don't see the curriculum as relevant
- what skills are relevant? 21st century skills - blogging, reading ads
- need to get school districts to change - students are in 'airplane mode' - students need input, education that serves their interests
- need creative teachers

Teacher Tube - What is Student Engagement?

- 10 seconds - multiplication rap
- students choose field, become experts in the field, then they teach the other students
- 1:50 - nice definition - looking, thinking, engaging, talking... "doing something"
- think-pair-share, looking at test results & evaluating errors, peer editing, we choose what we measure...

Factors Affecting Engagement?

Colin Beer, Ken Clark and David Jones, The Indicators Project

"It has given early indication that a different LMS or different social system can influence the level of feature adoption. The paper has identified a number of patterns that seem to indicate that the relationship between LMS activity and final student grade may be moderated by a number of factors including type of student and the level of staff interaction. The paper has offered some indication that the level of staff interaction on a course site might be an important factor. It has established that instructional design input may also be important. The paper has also reinforced the point that the analysis of LMS usage data is only useful in identifying potential interesting patterns of effective or not effective learning and needs to be supplemented with other methods, data and knowledge."

Engagement - how?

Col: "Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education have been referred to as a guiding light for quality undergraduate education and represents a philosophy of student engagement (Puzziferr-Schnitzer, 2005)."

Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson

Good practice in undergraduate education:

  1. encourages contact between students and faculty,

  2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,

  3. encourages active learning,

  4. gives prompt feedback,

  5. emphasizes time on task,

  6. communicates high expectations, and

  7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

Also TeacherTube - Work on the Work Making Student Engagement Central eg

- student teamwork, discussing the work with them - interaction

Student Engagement in Dawson Creek - video

- project-based learning, real-life learning, eg., CSI project
- all our subjects are incorporated
- if we can teach effort -

But the presumption of a MOOC is that participants have self-selected, that they're already interested and motivated.

Student engagement through Use of Music

- goal-setting, plan - "What's your plan to get an A in my classroom?"
Twitter use?
- found that twitter users had higher engagement - 4:40


- MOOC isn't focusing enough on what motivates people

"In a good course students should have the opportunity to practice leadership, gain knowledge, and be autonomous. Students should be provided ways to get social attention and opportunities to play and compete with each other. But this is not enough. Students should have the opportunity to make connections to deep philosophical issues, too: to obey moral codes, improve society and have connections to past and upcoming generations. Students should feel safe and secure and opportunities to take part in rituals, organize themselves, eat and express themselves as sexual beings. Finally, according to Reiss, we also have a desire to exercise muscles. Maybe the idea of school children gymnastics and the Bauhaus’ practice to began lessons with exercises is not that bad idea (I have tried the morning exercises, stretching, yoga, etc. in my lessons)."

This leads us to the second issue: what constitutes motivation?

Steven Reiss has proposed a theory with basic desires that explain human behaviour. In the article Multifaceted Nature of Intrinsic Motivation: The Theory of 16 Basic Desires Reiss (2004) describe the motives behind the desires. These are:

  • Desire to influence (including leadership; related to mastery),

  • Desire for knowledge,

  • Desire to be autonomous,

  • Desire for social standing (including desire for attention),

  • Desire for peer companionship (desire to play),

  • Desire to get even (including desire to compete, to win),

  • Desire to obey a traditional moral code,

  • Desire to improve society (including altruism, justice),

  • Desire to exercise muscles,

  • Desire for sex (including courting),

  • Desire to raise own children,

  • Desire to organize (including desire for ritual),

  • Desire to eat,

  • Desire for approval,

  • Desire to avoid anxiety, fear,

  • Desire to collect, value of frugality

Video on Creating a culture of engagement and motivation in a classroom

- from part 1, structure and consistency
- engagement and motivation:
-- getting to know the student
-- don't set them up for failure
-- reach out to the family
-- confidence / reputation / expectations - higher expectations are the norm (3:40)
-- ultimately, give choices (3:15 or so)
- know what the outcomes are - what will they be able to do? Make expectations clear
- interaction - work, feedback, etc - check for understanding
- choice: how to critically engage with the content, and how to be evaluated on that engagement ('open canvas')

Joseph Pate video, Student Engagement through Choice, Curiosity, and Interest: The Implicit Connections of Learning

- reference to Ken Robinson, divergent thinkers (not just critical thinkers)
- "we should be waking them up" (4:40 or so)
- has to be a commitment by the person who starts the class to follow through
- expectations (again)
- deep engagement - service learning
- Four orientations:
-- eyes of a child - natural inclination to learn
-- answers lie within students and their connections to the world
-- learning is not always comfortable
-- evaluation should be collaborative and formative, not reductionistic and summative

Content, connection, community and collaboration - as a grading matrix

- activity in the community beyond the classroom

EDUCAUSE converstaion on student engagement (and part two)

- students are more engaged, by talking with each other, by participation in their own learning
- the mode of interaction makes it possible for them to speak up more

(part two) - new ways of submitting materials - "they will invite you to join their group"

Where is the challenge in a MOOC?

Measuring Engagement

Using Flow as a measure of student engagement

TED talk from Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi 

The characteristics of “Flow” according to Czikszentmihalyi are:

  1. Completely involved, focused, concentrating – with this either due to innate curiosity or as the result of training

  2. Sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality

  3. Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going

  4. Knowing the activity is doable – that the skills are adequate, and neither anxious or bored

  5. Sense of serenity

  6. Timeliness – thoroughly focused on present, don’t notice time passing

  7. Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces “flow” becomes its own reward

Beer, Clark, Jones, Indicators of Engagement

- LMS - "a general correlation between the number of clicks by students within each LMS and their resulting grade across a large sample size consisting of 91284 online undergraduate students for Blackboard and 1515 for Moodle. However, there is also a high standard deviation for each grade group on both systems that is indicative of the degree of variance or volatility in the mean result."

- academic analytics - an LMS hosted learning environment enables every mouse click by every student within the system to be automatically tracked for analysis at a later date. - but this isn't available in a distributed environment

Jackie Gerstein, Flipped Classroom example
"Experiential Engagement: The Activity: The cycle often begins with an experiential exercise.  This is an authentic, often hands-on learning activity that fully engages the student.   It is a concrete experience that calls for attention by most, if not all, the senses"

Also: Student Produced Viral Videos

T4LT - Online Student Engagement Tips and Strategies

- call them or text them
- require them to blog
- find out who's not logging in
- make assignments relevant and meaningful
- explain expectations
- pre-assess students' readiness
- include a time-management activity, because online learners often struggle
- assignment variety and ownership
- add a regular webinar to the course - not canned, culture of communication and study
- communicate personally

TED, Gabe Zichermann: How games make kids smarter

Game Thinking - game mechanisms to engage audiences

- speed camera lottery (11:00 or so)


- faster pace
- rewards everywhere
- extensive collaborative play
- global world

Judith Borreson Caruso, EDUCAUSE, Measuring Student Experiences With Course Management Systems - LMS measures - features used, tool use, perceived value

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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