Most of the research into measuring student engagement prior to the widespread adoption of online, or web based classes, has concentrated on the simple measure of attendance (Douglas & Alemanne, 2007). While class attendance is a crude measure, in that it is only ever indicative of participation and does not necessarily consider the quality of the participation, it has nevertheless been found to be an important variable in determining student success (Douglas, 2008). It could also be said that class attendance is used as a metric for engagement, simply because it is one of the few indicators of engagement that are visible, or external to the student. For example, student motivation is often linked closely with engagement and has been defined as an internal state or condition that activates behaviour and gives it direction (Huitt, 2001). Class participation could be seen as an indicator of behaviour activated by a students’ motivation and can also be measured in online education, albeit with the same limitations concerning the quality of the participation.
Douglas, I. (2008, 14 December 2008). Measuring Participation in Internet Supported Courses. Paper presented at the 2008 International Conference on Computer Science and Software Engineering, Wuhan, China.
Douglas, I., & Alemanne, N. D. (2007). Measuring Student Participation and Effort. Paper presented at the International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age, Algarve, Portugal.
Huitt, W. (2001). Motivation to Learn [Electronic Version]. Educational Psychology Interactive. Retrieved 31st October 2009, from http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/motivaton/motivate.html