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Student engagement in blended learning environments

Student engagement guidelines

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Engaging and motivating students

Engaging students in online learning is critical for success. In this episode, we speak with teachers and students about strategies for improving engagement and motivation in online learning environments. Effective facilitation, creating learning communities, strategies for motivating students, and encouraging and sustaining participation are discussed.

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The following student engagement guidelines have been designed as a developmental tool for individual staff, schools and faculties to consider how they can progressively increase student engagement in the online environment.

These guidelines present several benefits, including the provision of criteria to:

  • Benchmark engaging learning and teaching practices in online environments
  • Guide self and peer review of existing online environments
  • Design learning activities that can promote 'active' learning in online environments
  • Achieve consistency in advice given to academic staff across the university on how to improve student engagement in the online environment
  • Promote self directed professional development for academic staff.

The guidelines distinguish three contexts across these five elements. Context One describes minimum engagement criteria and may be appropriate for a unit that is heavily reliant on face-to-face interactions. Contexts Two and Three describe ways in which the affordances of online technologies can be exploited to facilitate 'active' learning and enhance student engagement in units that utilise a blended learning approach.

Context 1 Context 2 Context 3

Students refer to the Blackboard unit to gain unit information and download lecture and tutorial materials.

Online learning space provides the student with access to learning resources, assessment guidelines, and basic communication tools.

Students refer to the Blackboard unit for personal learning needs and as scheduled for collaborative learning activities.

Online learning space provides the student with collaborative learning tasks, formative assessments, various communication tools and complex learning activities.

Students engage with the teaching staff and student community via appropriate collaboration tools and in a variety of authentic online learning activities.

Online learning space allows the student to be an 'active' learner who creates and interacts with the resources of the unit.

Context 1 Context 2 Context 3
  • Media rich resources e.g. videos, animations, simulations or Virtual labs
  • Student-generated materials augment/enhance learning materials
  • Students are not limited to the tools and resources used to develop and present understandings
  • Students are actively encourage to share understandings and resources
Context 1 Context 2 Context 3
  • Clearly stated expectations of student participation
  • Activities align with unit outcomes and assessment
  • Instructions and feedback on satisfactory completion of learning activities
  • Student centred learning tasks that extend student engagement and collaboration e.g. creation of digital interviews, peer-review, digital mash-ups
  • Learning tasks have depth, complexity and duration
  • Problem-based learning e.g. simulations
  • Opportunity for self-directed learning
Context 1 Context 2 Context 3
Context 1 Context 2 Context 3
  • Actively promoted linkages with industry professionals through an online community of practice
  • Vertical integration within a course
  • Peer support and mentoring
Context 1 Context 2 Context 3

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