In recent times, an important factor that requires consideration when discussing student engagement is the method of course delivery in universities. Some courses are delivered face-to-face; some via a blend of online and face-to-face and others are delivered fully online. In a traditional face-to-face class, students attend lectures and tutorials, and can participate in learning activities while in the presence of the instructor and their peers. A fully online course is typically delivered via the web with all the interactions between the learners, content and instructors facilitated by web based technologies, while blended courses use a mix involving face-to-face teaching augmented by web or online components.
The mode of course delivery defines the environment in which the student learns and encompasses the systems and dynamics that facilitate and enable student engagement (Coates, 2006). It is reasonable to assume that the mode of delivery will have an influence on how students engage in their learning environment. As an example of how the course delivery mode could influence student engagement, fully online students tend to be older and have competing demands and priorities in their lives when compared to their on-campus counterparts (Chen et al., 2008; Dutton, Durron, & Perry, 2002). As distance learning online is the fastest growing segment of postsecondary education its important to evaluate its effect on learner engagement (Chen et al., 2008).
Coates, H. (2006). Student Engagement in Campus-based and Online Education. Retrieved 23rd October 2009, from http://www.cqu.eblib.com.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/EBLWeb/patron/
Chen, P.-S. D., Gonyea, R., & Kuh, G. (2008). Learning at a distance [Electronic Version]. Journal of online education, 4. Retrieved October 2009, from http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=438&action=login