A Comparison of Student Engagement in the Online vs. Face-To-Face Environment


  • Jennifer Brielmaier George Mason University
  • Ying-Ying Kuo George Mason University




teaching online, student engagement, digital pedagogy


Enhancing student engagement has been a goal of increasing importance in higher education.à This may be especially valuable in online courses, where face-to-face interactions and synchronous activities are often minimal or nonexistent. Students are thought to be engaged when they view course activities as meaningful, persist in the face of difficulties or obstacles, and wish to learn to achieve mastery of the material (Bomia et al., 1997; Schlecty, 1994). Given the importance of student engagement for effective teaching, it is important for instructors and course designers to understand the factors that foster engagement within the learning environment.

The present study sought to measure and compare student satisfaction and engagement in online vs. face-to-face sections of Physiological Psychology taught in Spring and Fall 2015. An end of semester survey, adapted from the literature (Dixson, 2010; Ouimet & Smallwood, 2005), included 18 questions relevant to learner satisfaction, motivation and engagement. àThe preliminary data analysis was based on Spring 2015 data collected from 56 students total (22 online, 34 face-to-face).à The findings indicated that there was no statistically significant difference between the online and face-to-face sections for student learning satisfaction and overall engagement levels. Results suggest that online teaching and learning can be comparable to the face-to-face environment on these parameters. More complete analysis of the data from the Spring, Summer, and Fall 2015 semesters, as well as a discussion of implications for course design, will be presented. à

Faculty and course designers will learn about strategies for measuring and promoting student engagement within their own courses.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Brielmaier, George Mason University

Psychology Department, Term Assistant Professor

**2016 GMU Teaching Excellence Award**

Ying-Ying Kuo, George Mason University

Information Technology Services, Instructional Designer