Candidate for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Management of Makerere University
Thesis Title: Predictors of student engagement in the online component of Blended distance learning programs at Makerere University
Name of Candidate: Tumwesigye Tibs Jimmy
Reg. No.: 2015/HD04/1737U
1. Assoc. Prof. Paul Muyinda Birevu
2. Prof. Anthony Muwagga Muggaga
Student engagement is an antecedent of a successful learning process and educational outcomes. Student engagement enhances student learning motivation, reduces the sense of isolation and dropout rates, and enhances student cognitive development. This study investigated the predictors of student engagement in the online component of blended distance learning programs at Makerere University. The study particularly investigated whether teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence significantly predicted student engagement. The study was prompted by raising worries about the low levels of student engagement especially in the online component of blended distance learning programs in higher education institutions (HEIs) and Makerere University in particular, which is a threat to students’ attainment of educational outcomes. The study was underpinned by the Community of Inquiry theoretical framework and used the positivist paradigm with survey-based predictive correlational and cross-sectional research designs. Data were collected using a Self-administered Questionnaire (SAQ) from 283 students drawn from the College of Education and External Studies (CEES) and the College of Health Sciences (CHS) and analysis was done using both descriptive and inferential statistics with the help of the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS). Multiple regression analysis revealed that jointly; teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence were significant predictors of student engagement in the online component of blended distance learning programs at Makerere University (F=213.885, = .000, p<0.05). The three variables collectively explained 69.4% of the variance in student engagement. Social presence was observed to have the strongest predictive effect on student engagement (β = .382, sig. .000), followed by the cognitive presence (β = .288, sig. .000), and teaching presence (β = .228, sig. .000). The study concluded that teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence together influence student engagement in the online component of blended distance learning programs at Makerere University. The study recommends that online course instructors need to promote strategies focused on motivating group unity amongst learners through ensuring meaningful social interactions and group cohesion; implement online course activities that stimulate deep thinking and reflection in learning among students to achieve high levels of knowledge construction; design course activities that stimulate teaching presence through ensuring a simple and consistent course design that is easily accessed by students, a detailed syllabus with clear expectations and assignment guidelines, appropriate rubric, timelines and rules of engagement, provide orientation to learners, feedback and learner support.
Community of Inquiry, Teaching presence, Social Presence, Cognitive presence, Behavioral engagement, emotional engagement, Cognitive engagement.