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Increasing Learner Engagement in Online Learning through Use of Interactive Feedback: Results of a Pilot Study

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Pedagogical Considerations for Teaching Engineering Professionals

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

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Paper Authors


Eugene Rutz University of Cincinnati

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Eugene Rutz is Academic Director in the College of Engineering & Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati. Responsibilities include oversight of eLearning initiatives, working with high schools on engineering coursework, and academic oversight of the Master of Engineering program. Eugene serves as co-PI on an NSF sponsored Math and Science partnership grant and PI on other grants that examine the intersection of instructional technology and learning.

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Suzanne Ehrlich University of North Florida

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Suzanne Ehrlich, Ed.D, is a certified interpreter and and instructional deisgn educator with over 17 years of experience. She has presented nationally and internationally on the topics of e-learning and educational technology integration for interpreter education. Dr. Ehrlich’s research has examined American Sign Language instruction using videoconferencing technology, integration of e-learning technologies in education curricula, and the use of online protocols to improve discussion in online education. Her most recent research focuses on the use of iPads to bridge interpreting services for post-secondary students. Dr. Ehrlich is currently serving as the social media coordinator for the World Association of Signed Language Interpreters (WASLI). Her latest publication includes her co-authored volume, Interpreter Education in the Digital Age.

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Technologies for eLearning continue to evolve and provide additional mechanisms for teaching and facilitating learner engagement. As the number of engineering courses and programs provided in an online format continues to increase, the need for evaluating the efficacy of these eLearning tools also increases. One of the main concerns in online learning is learner persistence, so technologies and pedagogies that support persistence are especially important. A growing body of literature suggests that when students feel connected and supported, they are more likely to continue with a program. Finding ways to accomplish this support and engagement for online programs then is a significant factor in program delivery.

In this paper we report on the results of a pilot study that examined the use of text-based and interactive feedback using the framework of the Community of Inquiry (COI) Model. This model includes elements of cognitive presence, social presence and teaching presence which are associated with student engagement, connectedness and support. The pilot was conducted over two semesters in an online engineering course at a large Midwestern university. Students were provided both traditional text-based feedback on assignments and interactive feedback. Surveys were administered to measure students’ response to both forms of feedback and to gauge how both forms of feedback impacted elements of the COI Model.

The pilot study indicates that feedback has the greatest impact on teacher presence with smaller association with social presence and cognitive presence. The use of interactive feedback was certainly appreciated by the students but perhaps of more importance is timeliness of feedback and personalizing feedback to the individual. Student engagement is improved with the use of interactive feedback but the effort to provide this type of feedback may not be warranted for all courses.

Rutz, E., & Ehrlich, S. (2016, June), Increasing Learner Engagement in Online Learning through Use of Interactive Feedback: Results of a Pilot Study Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25672

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