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New benchmarks in higher education: Student engagement in online learning

, Oral Roberts University, United States

Oral Roberts University . Awarded


The advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web has brought about sweeping changes in higher education, transforming delivery systems and teaching methodologies. Simultaneously, stakeholders in education continue to demand accountability and a better measure of returns on education. This has spawned a new perspective on measurement of collegiate quality focused on student engagement---how and when students participate in activities related to educational objectives.

The most prominent measure of student engagement as a source of assessment of student learning is the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). While the use of student engagement as an educational measurement in residential higher education programs is steadily growing, the concept of student engagement has not been applied in the assessment of online learning.

This study measures the level of undergraduate student engagement in online learning. In addition, the relationship between engagement benchmarks and student satisfaction with the university is examined. Engagement benchmarks are: level of academic challenge, active/collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, and enriching educational experience. The instrument is a modified version of the NSSE survey. The sample comprises undergraduate students from Oklahoma State University, Northeastern State University, and Capella University. Descriptive statistics and multiple regression were used to answer the research questions. From the 201 responses, findings indicated a modest level of engagement. Item analyses detailed the level of engagement by specific engagement factors within each benchmark. The analyses also uncovered a number of distinctive engagement patterns in sub-groups. Multiple regression analysis showed that all four engagement benchmarks are related to the student's level of satisfaction with the entire educational experience. Students' considerations of whether they will go to the same institution if they started over were related to two benchmarks, namely "level of academic challenge" and "student-faculty interaction."

This research provides the groundwork for further studies to track engagement in online learning. In addition, engagement can be compared across successive cohorts of students in higher education.


Robinson, C.C. New benchmarks in higher education: Student engagement in online learning. Ph.D. thesis, Oral Roberts University. Retrieved May 20, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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