Engagement Even When Your Students Don't Come to Class

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Add to My Schedule

Brief Abstract

Does engagement have to suffer with high-enrollment, video-based courses? No! We discuss why you should (and how you can) engage students, sharing methods and techniques to get your students involved in your class (online and face-to-face), providing examples of technologies and activities that are available and can help at scale.


Dr. Tawnya Means is Assistant Dean and Director, Teaching and Learning Center (College of Business - University of Nebraska-Lincoln). She provides vision and leadership focused on the needs of students and faculty. Her team develops and implements comprehensive and effective learning support for students and creates faculty development programs and resources to assist faculty with instructional innovation and adoption of pedagogical best practices. Her expertise is in online and blended learning, active learning, technology innovation, and preparation to teach. She has long been a leader in campus initiatives and committees and actively presents at conferences and other institutions and organizations.

Extended Abstract

Student engagement is a common point of discussion in learning today. The term “student engagement” is often used to describe the time and physical energy that students put into activities in their academic experiences (Jacobi, Astin, Ayala, 1987; Kuh, 2003). It refers to the efforts of the student to study a subject, practice, obtain feedback, analyze, and solve problems (Kuh, 2003), and is the single best predictor of student learning and personal development (Astin, 1993; Kuh et al., 2007; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005; Pace, 1984). In other words, the more involved a student is in the learning activities, the more successful he or she will be (Astin, 1984). The general consensus is that higher levels of engagement lead to higher levels of student achievement, greater likelihood of graduation, and deeper satisfaction (Oblinger, 2014).

As more courses move to online, and institutions leverage technologies such as lecture-capture, students are seeing less value in coming to class, but this means that their only engagement is what happens online. How can institutions scale up their operations while still engaging students actively in the learning experience? And if it is possible to do so, should they?

In this presentation, we will discuss why you should (and how you can) engage students, share methods and techniques to get your students involved in your high-enrollment, lecture-capture or video-based class (online and face-to-face), provide examples of technologies and activities that are available and can help at scale (Yellowdig, GoReact, Poll Everywhere, TeamMate, telepresence robot, Catchbox), and share examples of what some faculty are doing at the University of Florida in our high-enrollment (250-1500 students), lecture-capture or video-based courses.

Addressing engagement is a two-part discussion. We can first look at the time and effort that students put into their learning, but we must also look at how we as institutions allocate human and other resources and organize learning opportunities and services to encourage students to participate in and benefit from such activities (Kuh, 2001). Our focus should be on encouraging institutional reflection and action on effective practice. Specifically, it should include consideration of the institution’s role in channeling students’ participation in effective educational practice.

Most educators and course designers are familiar with Chickering and Gamson’s “Seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education,” but how do you actually put into play when you have courses with hundreds or even thousands of students, many of whom do not come to a physical class setting and are watching the lectures and taking exams online? Using the following principles, it is possible to increase the presence of the instructor in the online environment, thereby increasing the opportunities for students to engage online and face-to-face.

  • Time + energy = learning (increase time on task)
  • Timely feedback should follow assessment
  • Structured activities, discussions, peer critiques, team projects can be used to make a course more than lectures and exams
  • Encourage learning/study groups/communities to promote interaction
  • Include peer mentors and leverage technology to facilitate outreach from instructors
  • Solicit input and interaction in class and online
  • Bring students to class

This session will have PowerPoint slides to drive the initial discussion of the concepts but will go beyond presentation and discussion to demonstrate actual examples that can easily be implemented in the classroom. Question and answer will be encouraged throughout the session, but input through Poll Everywhere will also allow participants to share their experiences and ideas, as well as drive the discussion.