Supporting engagement and retention of online and blended-learning students : A qualitative study from an Australian University

Journal article


Fan, Si, Trimble, Allison, Kember, David, Muir, Tracey, Douglas, Tracy, Wang, Yanjun, Masters, Jennifer and Mainsbridge, Casey. (2023). Supporting engagement and retention of online and blended-learning students : A qualitative study from an Australian University. The Australian Educational Researcher. pp. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-022-00605-5
AuthorsFan, Si, Trimble, Allison, Kember, David, Muir, Tracey, Douglas, Tracy, Wang, Yanjun, Masters, Jennifer and Mainsbridge, Casey
Abstract

Enrolment numbers in online higher education courses have continued to increase over the last decade. The challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have further accelerated the growth in online and blended course offerings. The development of institutional support services, however, does not reflect this growth. Many students are not equipped with the skills or given adequate support to engage and succeed in their courses, leading to student disengagement and attrition. This study investigated the perceptions of students in online and blended subjects, regarding both the academic and institutional support they were provided. The research team collected interview data from 41 online and blended-learning students and then analysed these data using an iterative thematic analysis approach. This article introduces the key findings with two models: one presenting support strategies at multiple levels within this university; the other presenting three key elements of subject-level teacher support, which were identified by the interviewees as the most significant, effective, and relevant support mechanism in this context. The findings will inform higher education institutions who aim to engage and support online and blended students better, through an improved understanding of how support is perceived by this student cohort. This study was conducted at one Australian university; however, the findings are relevant to higher education institutions in other countries that strive to bring about positive experiences and enhance retention rates for online and blended students.

Keywordsonline and blended learning; teacher–student interaction; higher education; engagement; retention; support
Year2023
JournalThe Australian Educational Researcher
Journal citationpp. 1-19
PublisherSpringer
ISSN2210-5328
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-022-00605-5
PubMed ID36684452
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85146129943
PubMed Central IDPMC9838283
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-19
FunderUniversity of Tasmania (UTAS)
Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Government
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online11 Jan 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted11 Dec 2022
Deposited19 Jul 2023
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