Many university teachers have redesigned/reshaped their module structure and/or delivery process to enhance student engagement. However, this is a diverse and complex area and it seems to be the “Holly Grail” of education. The literature conceptualises student engagement as cognitive (i.e., learning goals, self-efficacy, deep learning), affective (i.e., learning environment, teachers), and behavioural and social (i.e., participation and interaction) dimensions (Bond et al., 2020; Limniou et al., 2022). There are also attempts to explore student engagement regarding individuals’ characteristics, a feedback loop between teachers, peers, and the learning environment, the role of reflexivity influenced by the tasks and social interactions in a specific learning environment, etc.
Digital learning technology has become a central aspect of Higher Education and many researchers have studied student engagement. Bond & Bednelier (2019) discuss how a bioecological model in a macro-, exo-, meso-, and micro-level environment supports activities with peers, and teachers to enhance the cognitive, affective/emotional, and behavioural framework using technology interacting with the short and long-term learning outcomes on a social and academic level.
Collective knowledge construction has been also introduced to discuss how knowledge could be constructed through social and cognitive interaction in a group, where the cognitive system operates through cognition and the social system through communication (Kimmerle, Moskaliuk, Oeberst, & Cress, 2015). Both systems have their own internal mechanism, but they also interact as one supports the other learning process through internalisation and externalisation. This process supports not only the learning at an individual level but also the knowledge construction at a group level. For a group, the individuals represent its environment, and for individuals, the group represents their environment.
A third-year module has been initially designed to meet the needs of the University blended learning environment and the 21st-century demands (i.e., enhance student digital and employability skills) including 1. weekly face-to-face lectures, 2. fortnightly online seminars, 3. monthly face-to-face journal clubs and 4. online employability opportunities through students’ assessment process. This module has been also delivered fully online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Part of this course assessment is for students to create a blog post critiquing a target research article, making it suitable for a non-specialist audience, and discuss the impact of a discipline topic (i.e., cyberpsychology) in their lives through an audiovisual presentation. Third-year students should also create a blog entry to present themselves to others (i.e., employers, peers, etc.). This module has been also delivered fully online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The collective knowledge construction takes place through the assessment process, which is based on individual blog creation and discussion forums supporting cognitive and social systems respectively. Through the assessment and discussion students enhance their engagement with learning and the discipline topic. At the same time, students further develop digital and employability skills following JISC recommendations (2017) through individual blog construction and its dissemination among the student community.
The aim of this session is to promote discussions about a flexible module design process supporting blended and/or online learning to enhance student engagement while simultaneously enhancing employability and digital capabilities skills meeting 21st-century demands. This discussion will allow us to reflect on our strategy, revise and reconsider our teaching strategies and reimagine how student involvement could enhance their own learning process.
Bond, M., & Bedenlier, S. (2019). Facilitating Student Engagement Through Educational Technology: Towards a Conceptual Framework. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 1(11), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.5334/jime.528
Bond, M., Buntins, K., Bedenlier, S., Zawacki-Richter, O., & Kerres, M. (2020). Mapping research in student engagement and educational technology in higher education: A systematic evidence map. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 17, 2. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-019-0176-8
Kimmerle, J., Moskaliuk, J., & Oeberst, A., & Cress, U. (2015). Learning and Collective Knowledge Construction With Social Media: A Process-Oriented Perspective, Educational Psychologist, 50(2), 120-137. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2015.1036273
Limniou, M., Sedghi, N., Kumari, D., & Drousiotis, E. (2022). Student Engagement, Learning Environments and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Comparison between Psychology and Engineering Undergraduate Students in the UK. Education Sciences, 12(10), 671. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12100671