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What does learner engagement look like?

It is easy to equate learner engagement with class participation, but that’s a small part. Engaged learners have a genuine interest, attention to, and interaction in the learning process.  Learner engagement has three facets:

Cognitive - Effort and strategy. From a simple willingness to learn, to going above and beyond expectations to accomplish learning outcomes.

Emotional - Attitudes toward learning. From painful dislike to highly valuing the acquisition of knowledge and skills.

Behavioral - Reflected by what learners do in the learning process such as ask questions, demonstrate persistence, concentration, and attention, and participation in discussion or class activities.

The behavioral, emotional, and cognitive components of learner engagement work together to influence learning, whether it’s taking place in a face-to-face classroom or online.

Engaged student learning online

4 ways to increase engagement in your courses


Expanding opportunities for active participation — Design online courses so that students can participate virtually in class discussions, share videos or news clips with the class, reflect in a blog, collaborate with classmates in wikis, or even participate in peer assessment or peer assisted study sessions.


Enabling voice and choice in the learning process — Allow students to choose from a research paper, a presentation, or even collaborative project with peers all with a single rubric to evaluate learning outcomes.


Creating inclusive learning experiences — Adapt to a variety of student needs and learning styles, and enhance the learning experience, by offering course materials in a variety of formats.


Leveraging learner analytics in your digital learning environment — Analyze the way learners engage with courses; look at patterns over time, see where learners stand relative to others in their class, and identify the activities and topics that produce the highest level of engagement.

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