A Study of Enhancing Agentic Student Engagement Using the Hotseat Social Media Application

Concurrent Session 10

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This interactive presentation will demonstrate the Hotseat social media application that allows instructors and students to interact with one another, in an anonymous manner if they so choose; thus enhancing student engagement especially those too shy to do so in an open setting.


Paul Thomas is a PhD student at Purdue University’s department of Computer and Information Technology. He completed his master’s degree in Computer and Information Technology under the mentorship of Professor Kevin C. Dittman. His research focuses on enhancing different facets of student engagement and motivation using technological aids. Mr. Thomas may be reached at pjosekut@purdue.edu.
KEVIN C. DITTMAN is an Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems and Technology at Purdue University. Professor Dittman specializes in information systems business analysis, requirements engineering, quality management and project management. He has co-authored leading textbooks on systems analysis and design, and project management, plus he has published several other scholarly papers and journal articles. Professor Dittman has over thirty one years of industrial and consulting experience in the information technology arena with top corporations such as Cook Medical Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, and Cummins Engine. Professor Dittman may be reached at kcdittman@purdue.edu.

Extended Abstract

Fostering student engagement and motivation has always been a challenge in academic circles, with a range of techniques and methodologies having been developed to tackle this issue. Universities such as Purdue have made huge investments to incorporate active learning strategies and instructional technologies into its courses. Mobile devices, which have become widespread over the years, have also tended to serve as distractors. Purdue University developed Hotseat, a social-media application that allows to students to interact with one another and provide real-time feedback, in a bid to promote student engagement in the classroom by tapping into the prevalent use of mobile devices by students and existing backchannel communication. The presentation will be conducted in a fully interactive manner through a live demonstration of the Hotseat application where the audience can interact with presenters using it. In addition, participants will also learn the classifications of student engagement. The presentation would benefit all those involved in higher education regardless of expertise.

Traditionally student engagement was classified as behavioral, emotional and cognitive. The concept of agentic engagement is a relatively new development in the field and deals with students constructively influencing the nature of the instruction that they receive. Agentic engagement has been positively correlated with course-specific achievement and student learning. The findings from a research study conducted at Purdue University which aimed at improving student perceptions of agentic engagement among students by using the Hotseat application will also be presented. 41 students from the lab sections of Purdue University’s Introduction to Systems Development course; served as research subjects. 23 students responded to surveys from the experiment group that was exposed to Hotseat and 18 students responded to surveys in the control group. The data was analyzed quantitatively using a two-sample T-test at α=0.05. The results pointed to there not being a significant difference in student perceptions of agentic engagement between the control and experiment groups. The results of the study must be interpreted by considering two important methodological limitations related to the size of the samples and the fact that it was a convenience sample. The inference could be made that the Hotseat application is not best suited for deployment in a lab section. But it is important to note that perceptions of agentic engagement were not negatively affected by the introduction of Hotseat. The pedagogical structure and course content could have limited the effect of Hotseat. The physical limitations of the classroom must also be considered when interpreting these results. The instructor did not possess the means to view the Hotseat application while simultaneously presenting the lab material. This limited the instructor’s ability to immediately respond to comments and posts made by the students which could have contributed to the insignificant differences in perceptions of agentic engagement between the two sections. Lab sections tend to focus on the behavioral and cognitive aspects of engagement since the emphasis is typically on practical application of concepts. This could have served as a limiting factor for student agency. It is also possible that the subjects may have been agentically engaged in the classroom but did not perceive themselves to be so. The study did not consider whether the subjects’ recorded perceptions matched or contrasted with their actual behavior. Future research could focus on how variables like student standing and preferred first language affect perceptions of agentic student engagement.