Assessing Online Asynchronous Communication Strategies Designed to Enhance Large Student Cohort Engagement and Foster a Community of Learning

Paul G Kebble


With the increasing diversity of pedagogic models of delivery in higher education, universities are continually exploring practises of learning and teaching designed to enhance student experience and retention. The number of courses provided online continues to grow through, among other reasons, an escalation of higher education (HE) students requiring flexible approaches to learning and learner engagement. However, HE Students participating in online courses can experience a sense of physical isolation which, if allowed to escalate, can lead to reduced performance and potential withdrawal from courses. Creating an online learning environment that fosters a sense of connection and assimilation should enhance an individual’s learning experience and engagement. This enquiry, conducted through a two-cycle participatory action research approach, was designed to explore possible strategies to enhance learner engagement. Elaborations introduced in cycle two, and the construct of recommendations, were based upon the analysis of data collected through online interactions between students and lecturer, appraisal of online student communications, and the utilisation of an online questionnaire. Participants were 2nd year undergraduate Bachelor of Education students following a Design and Technology in Education course, with cohorts of 131 and 124 respectively. The research process included assessing the effectiveness of weekly newsletters and group discussion board summaries utilising student quotes, along with supporting practises, for promoting a sense of inclusion and improving interactions within online learning communities. The research concludes by providing a list of suggested strategies shown through this research to have enhanced large student cohort engagement and foster a community of learning and learners having shared values and aspirations, and willing to learn through engagement with others.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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