Determination of factors influencing student engagement using a learning management system in a tertiary setting

Barua, Prabal Datta (2020) Determination of factors influencing student engagement using a learning management system in a tertiary setting. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Abstract

Determining the key factors that affect student engagement will assist academics in improving students’ motivation. The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) reports have shown low engagement levels in higher education student cohorts (QILT 2016, 2017). While factors such as online education, lack of attendance, and poor course content design have been attributed to this cause, it is still not clear as to the determination of those factors influencing student engagement in a higher education setting. It is widely accepted that the selection of appropriate learning resources is an essential phase in the education process. In contrast, an incompatible range of course materials can demotivate a student from engaging in the course (Quaye & Harper 2014).

In the modern tertiary setting, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays an essential role in disseminating information with a Learning Management System (LMS) as the platform to communicate crucial course-related information. Academics can develop course materials on these LMSs to engage students beyond the classrooms, and students need to interact through the same platform to comprehend the transmitted knowledge. Since LMSs are operated on a computer platform, academics and students require strong ICT skills which are further utilised in the preparation of course materials. The knowledge required is dependent on the relevance and appropriateness of materials, the way various tasks are prepared, how communication is facilitated, the role and utilisation of discussion forums and other available social media structures, and the way in which assessments are conducted. This cumulatively leads to the development of a Just in Time (JIT) type of knowledge, which can be challenging to measure. The investigation into these major factors forms the basis of this study. Thus, understanding how various factors influence student engagement through the use of LMS platforms in a tertiary setting is the focus of this study.

This study used a hybrid method involving a qualitative component to understand the factors that influence the student engagement in an LMS driven learning setting and a quantitative component for confirmation of various factors identified through the literature review. The study developed five specific hypotheses for testing, and the following table shows the outcomes of hypotheses testing:

H1: Students are influenced by teaching resources in order to realise engagement in classroom activities - ACCEPTED

H2: Academics influence engagement in classroom activities through their involvement in various teaching and management aspects - REJECTED

H3: An academic’s activities influence the management of teaching activities, resulting in improved engagement by students in the class - ACCEPTED

H4: Learning Management Systems (LMS) are a key part in improving students’ engagement - REJECTED

H5: Management of various study-related activities to reach focus in the study will positively influence students’ engagement - ACCEPTED

The outcomes of the study indicate that students and associated classroom activities, teaching resources, management of teaching, the way LMSs are established, and students’ requirements and needs play a key role in assuring engagement. This study also found that an academic’s activities play a less significant role in fostering engagement as there appears to be a shift from teaching to teaching management, as evidenced in the qualitative discussion. Further, the participants expected academics to have superior technology communication skills as this is essential in an LMS driven setting. Interestingly, this study correlated with a number of standards dictated by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards of Australia (TEQSA), a regulatory body that enforces standards in Australian tertiary education. This correlation was observed despite the fact that students that participated in this study had limited awareness of these TEQSA standards.

The main contribution of this study is in highlighting the fact that academics and other support services in tertiary settings should focus on how the LMS is presented as participants expressed that clear navigation of the system is essential for engagement. This has profound implications in the way the recruitment of academics is conducted. In terms of practice, TEQSA standards are key in assuring quality in tertiary settings, and this study has provided strong evidence as to the needs for support systems, the way learning objectives are mapped to deliver learning outcomes, appropriateness of the content, time imposition on students in managing their study-related activities, and integration of technology. These are now a standard part of the TEQSA assessment.

The study can be further improved in the future by collecting data from various cohorts: for example, fulltime vs part-time, domestic vs overseas, and mature vs school leavers, to better assess their views in terms of engagement as these cohorts come with varying needs. These can then be encapsulated in the learning materials and systems development. This would then lead to a better alignment of learning management and engagement to realise better outcomes.


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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Management and Enterprise (1 Jul 2013 - 17 Jan 2021)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Management and Enterprise (1 Jul 2013 - 17 Jan 2021)
Supervisors: Gururajan, Raj; Zhou, Xujuan (Susan); Hafeez-Baig, Abdul
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2020 04:59
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2021 22:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: higher education, LMS, information technology, engagement, student, academic
Fields of Research (2008): 08 Information and Computing Sciences > 0806 Information Systems > 080602 Computer-Human Interaction
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
Fields of Research (2020): 46 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 4608 Human-centred computing > 460806 Human-computer interaction
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390303 Higher education
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.26192/Z9AS-4P42
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/39505

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