A causal loop approach to uncover interrelationship of student online interaction and engagement and their contributing factors
Advances in technology reinforce the imperative to obtain further insight into the factors that impact online interaction in online environments. Even though past researchers have extracted factors impacting student online interaction and engagement, there is a lack of research that uncovers the dynamics of these relationships and investigates the impact of a comprehensive set of factors on student online interaction at the same time. Thus, this paper seeks to fill this gap by employing a causal loop approach to uncover the interrelationships of these factors that contribute to a positive impact on students’ learning outcomes, and to evaluate satisfaction and engagement in online courses by focussing on students’ online interaction. To this end, a rich qualitative data set was obtained from an online focus group consisting of students from a large online course, and a thematic analysis was conducted resulting in identifying different factors that played a role in the topic under study. More importantly, causal loop modelling was used to model these factors and their causal interrelationships.
6.3D, V. (2013) Vensim® Software, Ventana Systems, Inc.
Bawa, P. (2016) ‘Retention in online courses: Exploring issues and solutions – A literature review’, Sage Open, vol. 6, p. 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244015621777
Beatty, B. J. (2002) Social Interaction in Online Learning: A Situationalities Framework for Choosing Instructional Methods, Faculty of the University Graduate School as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Indiana University.
Bing, W. & Ping, T. A. (2008) ‘A comparative analysis of learners interaction in the online learning management systems: Does national culture matter?’, AAOU Journal, vol. 3, pp. 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1108/aaouj-03-01-2008-b001
Bowman, N. D. & Akcaoglu, M. (2014) ‘“I see smart people!”: Using Facebook to supplement cognitive and affective learning in the university mass lecture’, The Internet and Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2014.05.003
Boyatzis, R. E. (1998) Transforming Qualitative Information: Thematic Analysis and Code Development, Sage.
Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006) ‘Using thematic analysis in psychology’, Qualitative Research in Psychology, vol. 3, pp. 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
Bubas, G., Coric, A. & Orehovački, T. (2010) The Evaluation of the Use of Online Community Tool Ning for Support of Student Interaction and Learning. CECIIS-2010.
Carr, S. (2000) ‘As distance education comes of age, the challenge is keeping the students’, Chronicle of higher education, vol. 46, p. 23.
Cheawjindakarn, B., Suwannatthachote, P. & Theeraroungchaisri, A. (2013) ‘Critical success factors for online distance learning in higher education: A review of the literature’, Creative Education, vol. 3, p. 61.
Chen, Y.-J. & Chen, P.-C. (2007) ‘Effects of online interaction on adult students’ satisfaction and learning’, The Journal of Human Resource and Adult Learning, vol. 3, pp. 78–89.
Daradoumis, T., Xhafa, F., & Marques, J. M. (2003, September). Exploring interaction behaviour and performance of online collaborative learning teams. In International Conference on Collaboration and Technology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. pp. 126–134. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-39850-9_11
Ellis, J. & Romano, D. (2008) Synchronous and asynchronous online delivery: How much interaction in e-learning is enough in higher education? World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, pp. 2615–2620.
Ellison, N., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2006). Spatially bounded online social networks and social capital. International Communication Association, vol. 36, pp. 1–37.
Fredrickson, J. (2018) ‘Assessing the impact of student effort and content interaction on learning for on-campus and online students’, Global Journal of Business Pedagogy, vol. 2, pp. 47.
Gaiser, T. J. (2008). Online focus groups. The SAGE handbook of online research methods, pp. 290–306.
Ghanbarzadeh, R. & Ghapanchi, A. H. (2018) ‘Investigating various application areas of three-dimensional virtual worlds for higher education’, British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 49, pp. 370–384.
Gibbs, G. (2002). Qualitative data analysis: Explorations with NVivo (Understanding social research). Buckingham: Open University Press. vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 100. 2007. https://doi.org/10.7748/nr.9.4.86.s3
Girard, J., Willoughby, L. & Berg, K. Enhancing Interaction in Asynchronous Online Information Systems Education.
Hao, Y. W. (2004) ‘Students’ attitudes toward interaction in online learning: Exploring the relationship between attitudes, learning styles, and course satisfaction’ (Doctoral dissertation)..
Hao, Y. (2006) ‘Investigate the relationships of student attitudes toward interaction, learning styles, and their online learning readiness in higher education’. World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, pp. 1213–1216.
Hammer, V. A. (2002) The Influence of Interaction on Active Learning, Learning Outcomes, and Community Bonding in an Online Technology Course, University of Cincinnati, Columbus, Ohio.
Heinemann, M. H. (2007) ‘Teacher−student interaction and learning in online theological education. Part Four: Findings and conclusions’, Christian Higher Education, vol. 6, pp. 185–206. https://doi.org/10.1080/15363750701283599
Jun, J. (2005) ‘Understanding E-dropout?’, International Journal on E-Learning, vol. 4, pp. 229–240.
Kang, M. & Im, T. (2013) ‘Factors of learner–instructor interaction which predict perceived learning outcomes in online learning environment’, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, vol. 29, pp. 292–301. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12005
Kaymak, Z. D. & Horzum, M. B. (2013) ‘Relationship between online learning readiness and structure and interaction of online learning students’, Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, vol. 13, pp. 1792–1797.
Ke, F. & Kwak, D. (2013). ‘Online learning across ethnicity and age: A study on learning interaction participation, perception, and learning satisfaction’, Computers & education, vol. 61, pp. 43–51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.09.003
Kuo, C., Walker, A. & Schroder, K. (2010a). ‘Interaction and other variables as predictors of student satisfaction in online learning environments’, Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, pp. 593–600.
Kuo, F.-Y., et al., (2013) ‘Critical success factors for motivating and sustaining women's ICT learning’, Computers & Education, vol. 67, pp. 208–218. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2013.03.006
Kuo, Y. C., Walker, A. E., Belland, B. R., Schroder, K. E., & Kuo, Y. T. (2014a). ‘A case study of integrating Interwise: Interaction, internet self-efficacy, and satisfaction in synchronous online learning environments’, The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, vol. 15, no. 1. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v15i1.1664
Kuo, Y.-C., et al., (2014b) ‘Interaction, Internet self-efficacy, and self-regulated learning as predictors of student satisfaction in online education courses’, The Internet and Higher Education, vol. 20, pp. 35–50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2013.10.001
Kurucay, M. & Inan, F. A. (2017) ‘Examining the effects of learner-learner interactions on satisfaction and learning in an online undergraduate course’, Computers & Education, vol. 115, pp. 20–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2017.06.010
Kyei-Blankson, L., Ntuli, E. & Donnelly, H. (2016) ‘Establishing the importance of interaction and presence to student learning in online environments’, World Journal of Educational Research, vol. 3, p. 48. https://doi.org/10.22158/wjer.v3n1p48
Lamy, M.-N. L. & Hassan, X. R. (2003) ‘What influences reflective interaction in distance peer learning? Evidence from four long-term online learners of French’, Open Learning, vol. 18, pp. 39–59. https://doi.org/10.1080/0268051032000054112
Lenhart, A., et al., (2010) Social Media & Mobile Internet Use among Teens and Young Adults. Millennials, Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Madland, C., & Richards, G. (2016). ‘Enhancing student-student online interaction: Exploring the study buddy peer review activity’, The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, vol. 17, no. 3. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v17i3.2179
Mayer, R. E. (2002) Multimedia Learning. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Elsevier.
Merchant, Z., et al., (2013) ‘Exploring 3-D virtual reality technology for spatial ability and chemistry achievement’, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, vol. 29, pp. 579–590. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12018
Moallem, M., Pastore, R. & Martin, F. (2013) ‘Interaction in online learning: A comparative study on the impact of communication tools on student learning, motivation, self-regulation, and satisfaction’, Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, pp. 2286–2306.
Mohamad, A. M., Yusof, F. M., & Aris, B. (2014). ‘Students View on Text Chats (CH), Forum Discussion (FR), and Online Learning Interaction (LI)’, Jurnal Teknologi, vol. 69, p. 1. https://doi.org/10.11113/jt.v69.2872
Neuman, W. (2006) ‘Qualitative and quantitative research designs’, in WL Neuman, Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches, 6th edn., Pearson Prentice-Hall, Boston, MA, pp. 149–178.
Neuman, W. L. (2013) Social research methods: Quantitative and qualitative approaches, Pearson.
Nor, N. F. M., Hamat, A. & Embi, M. A. (2012) ‘Patterns of discourse in online interaction: Seeking evidence of the collaborative learning process’, Computer Assisted Language Learning, vol. 25, pp. 237–256. https://doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2012.655748
Okonta, O. (2010). Effects of online interaction via computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools on an e-mathematics learning outcome. Capella University.
Olaniran, B. A., & Rodriguez, N. (2013). ICT and Healthcare: A Closer Look at the Role of ICTs in Providing Support for Female Victims/Survivors of Domestic Violence (DV). In Handbook of Research on ICTs and Management Systems for Improving Efficiency in Healthcare and Social Care. IGI Global. pp. 720–733.
Orlikowski, W. J. & Baroudi, J. J. (1991) ‘Studying information technology in organizations: Research approaches and assumptions’, Information Systems Research, vol. 2, pp. 1–28. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781849209687.n4
Prougestaporn, P., Visansakon, T. & Saowapakpongchai, K. (2015) ‘Key success factors and evaluation criterias of e-learning websites for higher education’, International Journal of Information and Education Technology, vol. 5, p. 233. https://doi.org/10.7763/ijiet.2015.v5.507
Reed, P. (2013) ‘Hashtags and retweets: Using Twitter to aid Community, Communication and Casual (informal) learning’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 21. https://doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v21i0.19692
Reed, P. (2014) ‘Staff experience and attitudes towards technology-enhanced learning initiatives in one Faculty of Health and Life Sciences’, Research in Learning Technology, vol. 22. https://doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v22.22770
Reed, P. & Watmough, S. (2015) ‘Hygiene factors: Using VLE minimum standards to avoid student dissatisfaction’, E-learning and Digital Media, vol. 12, pp. 68–89.
Richardson, G. P. (1986) ‘Problems with causal-loop diagrams’, System Dynamics Review, vol. 2, pp. 158–170. https://doi.org/10.1002/sdr.4260020207
Richardson, J., Tunwall, C. & Carnevale, C. (2000) ‘The affordances and constraints of asynchronous learning networks: Looking at interaction in an online environment’, World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications, 1490–1492.
Shank, P. & Doughty, V. (2002) ‘Learning anew: An exploratory study about new online learners' perceptions of people interaction and learning to learn in an online course’, World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications, pp. 2167–2171.
Sher, A. (2009). Assessing the relationship of student-instructor and student-student interaction to student learning and satisfaction in web-based online learning environment. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 102–120.
Stutzman, F. (2006) ‘An evaluation of identity-sharing behavior in social network communities’, Journal of the International Digital Media and Arts Association, vol. 3, pp. 10–18.
Su, B., et al., (2005) ‘The importance of interaction in web-based education: A program-level case study of online MBA courses’, Journal of Interactive Online Learning, vol. 4, pp. 1–19.
Sushil. (1993). System dynamics: A practical approach for managerial problems. Wiley Eastern Limited.
Swan, K. (2002) ‘Building learning communities in online courses: The importance of interaction’, Education, Communication & Information, vol. 2, pp. 23–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/1463631022000005016
Swanson, A. C. (2010). Establishing the best practices for social interaction and e-connectivity in online higher education classes (Doctoral dissertation, University of Phoenix).
Tatar, D., Gray, J. & Fusco, J. (2002) ‘Rich social interaction in a synchronous online community for learning’, Proceedings of the Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning: Foundations for a CSCL Community, International Society of the Learning Sciences, pp. 633–634. https://doi.org/10.3115/1658616.1658759
Torun, E. D. (2013) ‘Synchronous interaction in online learning environments with Adobe connect pro’, Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 106, pp. 2492–2499. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.12.286.
Tung, L. C. (2012) Online Learner Interaction: Comparative study on structured and less structured course content in Learning Management System. Published and Printed in Malaysia by, 257.
Veletsianos, G. (2010). Emerging technologies in distance education: Athabasca University Press.
Von Alan, R. H., et al., (2004) ‘Design science in information systems research’, MIS Quarterly, vol. 28, pp. 75–105. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5653-8_2
Wang, H. (2005) ‘A qualitative exploration of the social interaction in an online learning community’, International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, vol. 1, pp. 79–88.
Willcocks, L. (2004) Social theory and philosophy for information systems, Journal-Operational Research Society, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 227
Wilson, J. (2007). An examination of the relationships of interaction, learner styles, and course content on student satisfaction and outcomes in online learning (Doctoral dissertation, University of Southern Queensland).
Wu, P., et al., (2014) ‘Critical success factors in distance learning construction programs at Central Queensland University: Students’ perspective’, Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, vol. 141, pp. 05014003. https://doi.org/10.1061/(asce)ei.1943-5541.0000217
Yoo, S., Jeong Kim, H. & Young Kwon, S. (2014) ‘Between ideal and reality: A different view on online-learning interaction in a cross-national context’, Journal for Multicultural Education, vol. 8, pp. 13–30. https://doi.org/10.1108/jme-04-2013-0018
York, C. S. & Richardson, J. C. (2012). ‘Interpersonal interaction in online learning: Experienced online instructors' perceptions of influencing factors’, Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, vol. 16, pp. 83–98. https://doi.org/10.24059/olj.v16i4.229
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.Authors contributing to Research in Learning Technology retain the copyright of their article and at the same time agree to publish their articles under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, for any purpose, even commercially, under the condition that appropriate credit is given, that a link to the license is provided, and that you indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.