Online learner engagement and teaching-learning perceptions

COVID-19 struck suddenly, almost overnight. As lecturers adapted, we identified the need for research about online learning to optimise student learning, and to enhance lecturer practise. Throughout the unique two-plus years of the pandemic, preparedness for abrupt transitions from face-to-face to online has continued, and we still need to support students engaging in learning online. Th key to student engagement is not just their interest in the subject but also lecturer support, encouragement, and expertise in teaching online. These are all critical elements of active learning.

In this study, we examined the role of active learning of 219 online English-Mediated Instruction (EMI) learners from Liberal Arts, Sciences, and Languages majors to investigate factors that predict online learner engagement. Online learning can effectively encourage active learning without face-to-face classroom interaction. Our findings indicated teaching approach and lecturer preparedness are key factors for student engagement in the online environment. Unexpectedly, instructor’s encouraging of student participation was not found to be essential. Our study implied that during online learning students may not recall actively taking part in discussions, but they will perceive and remember lecturers’ organisation and warmth. Student engagement or active learning then, especially online, is associated with lecturer organisation and informative ongoing communication with students in the classroom.

Throughout the pandemic, lecturers and students will have not only adjusted to online learning but will have discovered richer and deeper online sources, not only of information and discussions of their class subjects, but also of support and interaction between lecturer and students, as well as between students. As in a face-to-face classroom, working and supporting relationships develop in online classrooms with the support and information from an organised and warm lecturer. Our study suggested that opening the online class early for salutations and small talk, and making a sincere effort to know and use students’ names, even in larger sized classes, are beneficial to students’ engagement and learning success.

Online learning is established and has opened up new ways of teaching and learning, as well as research needs. COVID-19 has strengthened the technology and pedagogy using that technology. As lecturers and students look forward to the waning of the pandemic and the return to the traditional classroom, the rich and in-depth resources of the internet still be mined and used constructively in the classroom. However, lecturers and students must be prepared, for the indefinite future, for sudden, well-organised, transition to a blended form of class.

Yvette Denise Murdoch, Department of English Education, College of Education, Hongik University (, ROK. She has a profound professional and personal interest in contributing to the betterment of the English-Mediated Instruction and English preservice education teaching–learning environments.
Cherry Lee (Facebook)           Yvette Murdoch (LinkedIn)               Cherry Lee (Instagram)


Lim, H., Murdoch, Y. D., & Cho, J. 2021. Online EMI learner engagement and perceptions of teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, DOI:10.1080/14703297.2021.1905030

4 thoughts on “Online learner engagement and teaching-learning perceptions

  1. You and I agree on many topics, and this is one.

    If anyone comes across a great research article about the betterment of English Education (L1 or L2), it was written by no other than Professor Murdoch.


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