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Remote and Hybrid Learning Environments: A Case for Promoting Student Engagement

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Innovative Pedagogies Afforded Through Technology and Remote Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Cijy Elizabeth Sunny Baylor University

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Dr. Cijy Elizabeth Sunny is a PD Research Associate in the Department of Information Systems and Business Analytics, Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. She is a research methodologist and psychometrician who has applied her skills in quantitative and mixed methods research methodology in the substantive areas of STEM education research, medical education, and more recently in engineering education. Additionally, she has been an educator and has taught primarily physics and also research methodology on three different continents. In addition to research, she has also conducted workshops on using concept mapping methodology for scale development, mixed methods research methodology for standardized patient educators, and standard-setting for physician educators. Dr. Sunny continues to invest her skills in engineering education research through her collaborations. As part of her new undertaking at Baylor University, she is investing her skills as a research methodologist and data analyst to fight human trafficking through the use of Information Technology working alongside the research team there in collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders.

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Gregory Warren Bucks University of Cincinnati

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Gregory Bucks joined the Department of Engineering Education at the University of Cincinnati in 2012. He received his BSEE from the Pennsylvania State University in 2004, his MSECE from Purdue University in 2006, and his PhD in Engineering Education in 2010, also from Purdue University. After completing his PhD, he taught for two years at Ohio Northern University in the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science department, before making the transition to the University of Cincinnati. He has taught a variety of classes ranging introductory programming and first-year engineering design courses to introductory and advanced courses in electronic circuits. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE, and ACM.

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Due to the changes implemented by many colleges and universities around the country in response to the novel coronavirus, many faculty have been forced to implement fully online learning strategies with little to no prior experience and minimal preparation. Additionally, due to the restrictions placed on classroom occupancy to ensure proper social distancing, some faculty have moved their class to hybrid models, with a portion participating in-person while the remainder participate remotely. This adds an additional layer of complexity to an already complex system as the faculty must ensure that both the in-person and remote students are being engaged.

Engagement is a multidimensional concept and is challenging to capture in a single instant in time due to its longitudinal impact. The learner is often said to become an ENGAGED learner when they are searching, evaluating, constructing, creating, organizing to better develop ideas, skills, understandings, solutions, and decisions, amongst others. While engagement has been studied primarily in the context of motivation, other theoretical frameworks also need to be explored that could help better understand this abstract concept within the perspective of a student’s socio-ecological environment and use of provided opportunities. Additionally, this needs to be considered in the context of non-human agencies like the remote learning environments which are even more pronounced now and rapidly becoming a staple in many programs throughout the country.

This full research paper will explore the impact of different strategies on the engagement (affective, cognitive, and behavioral) of students participating in fully remote and hybrid learning experiences through the lens of a socioecological (engagement in terms of social and ecological factors such as availability of resources, communication, organizational and instructional support), and opportunity-propensity frameworks (learning opportunities and students willingness to avail to these opportunities). With this as our theoretical underpinning we plan to develop two surveys: (1) a faculty survey to identify engaging strategies, and (2) a student survey to evaluate these strategies and incorporate their feedback using a pragmatic lens. The surveys will be developed and administered at a large, urban, midwestern university for both a fully remote and hybrid approach for comparison. Two of the twenty-two sections of a first-year engineering course were designated as fully remote while the remainder utilized a hybrid approach. In this hybrid approach, half of the students (36) attend in-person while the other half attend remotely for the first weekly class meeting. Students then switch roles for the second meeting. Course content, in-class activities, assignments, and exams are common among all twenty-two sections, regardless of modality.

In the face of the changes wrought by the pandemic, faculty are adapting to ensure high-quality learning while also maintaining the health and safety of their students and themselves. It is important to understand the impact of the changing landscape of educational practices on our students, as many elements will persist even after the restrictions imposed by the pandemic are lifted. This research hopes to provide faculty with both proven strategies for engaging their students in remote and hybrid learning environments as well as tools to investigate the level of engagement of their students.

Sunny, C. E., & Bucks, G. W. (2021, July), Remote and Hybrid Learning Environments: A Case for Promoting Student Engagement Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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