Jessica Sain
September 15, 2022

You’ve completed a demo, prepped your students for their Learnics assignment, and are ready to get the ball rolling. You’re eager to start seeing data return from your students’ online journeys, but one thing is left lingering in your mind… how do I know the students are engaged during this assignment?

There is plenty of research on student engagement with online learning, with even more underway following the increase in virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a study conducted by Dixson (2015) to identify an online student engagement assessment tool, a correlation was not found between students’ engagement and clickstream behavior but instead was found in subsequent discussions and interactions with the content. Personal interactions, whether student to teacher or student to student are encouraged across the literature in recent years to increase engagement in an online space (Kennedy, 2020; Prince et al., 2020). Ayouni et al. (2021) also recently published a synthesis of research on online engagement, emphasizing not only the importance of peer interaction but also adding students’ belief in their learning and the students’ ability to see the effect of their academic efforts.

So how does this transfer to your Learnics assignment? If signs are pointing to a positive correlation between students’ online engagement and discussions with their teachers and peers, in addition to their belief in their learning ability and after-effects, there are several steps you can take to ensure your students’ Learnics experience is engaging. Several of the suggestions below are rooted in feedback suggestions from Hattie & Clarke (2019)

  • Reflection questions – When creating an assignment within Learnics, click the “Choose Learnics Post-Assignment Questions” option to select between a series of questions grouped for data analysis, analysis of websites, and self-reflection. These questions touch on CASEL’s Social Emotional Learning framework for Self-Awareness and Responsible Decision-Making. You also have the option to create your own question(s) to prompt students to self-reflect on a specific piece of the assignment, depending on your instructional goals. 
  • Reflection journals – Want students’ reflections to be more student-driven? Have students create a reflection journal specific to Learnics assignments or inclusive of all assignments, allowing them the opportunity to write down their thoughts in a broad sense. This suggestion also ties into CASEL’s Social Emotional Learning framework for Self-awareness.
  • Peer-to-peer sharing – Allow students to pair and discuss their Learnics results following the assignment. To prompt meaningful discussions, provide students with reflection questions to compare responses, or simply ask students to compare their data shown in the student dashboard and let their discussion guide itself.
  • Small group sharing – Similar to peer-to-peer sharing, group students into small groups of 4-5 and ask them to compare their data. Allow students to discuss the websites they visited and why they selected those websites. To encourage further class-wide discussion, have each group elect their “top website” among their participants and defend to the class why they think their group’s top website is the most valuable resource for the assignment. 
  • Class-wide sharing – Allow students to voluntarily share their data or self-reflection on the assignment with the class. If students participated in small group sharing, allow them to share the discussions among their group or bring their “top website” to the table. Allow the students to do the majority of the talking but prompt the discussion with questions about the credibility of the student-selected websites, why they felt the information they found was valuable, and what they would recommend to their classmates.


Ayouni, S., Hajjej, F., Maddeh, M., & Alotaibi, S. (2021). Innovations of materials for student engagement in online environment: An ontology. Materials Today: Proceedings,

Dixson, M. D. (2015). Measuring student engagement in the online course: The Online Student Engagement scale (OSE). Online Learning, 19(4).

Hattie, J., & Clarke, S. (2019). Visible learning: Feedback. Routledge.

Kennedy, G. (2020). What is student engagement in online learning... and how do I know when it is there? Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education. https://melbourne- online-learning_final.pdf

Prince, M., Felder, R., & Brent, R. (2020). Active student engagement in online STEM classes: Approaches and recommendations. Advances in Engineering Education, 8(4), 1-25.

By Jessica Sain

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