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Strengthening student engagement: what do students want in online courses?

Misha Chakraborty (Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Fredrick Muyia Nafukho (Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 28 October 2014




The purpose of this paper was to identify pertinent studies on the important issue of student engagement strategies in online courses and to establish from empirical studies student engagement strategies that work.


The paper adopted the literature review approach. The authors conducted a thorough and systematic search of the literature to find empirical studies focusing on online engagement strategies within the field of education and distance learning. To generate as many relevant publications as possible, both manual and electronic searches were conducted. The databases used included; Academic Search Complete (Ebsco), Social Sciences Full Text (Wilson), ProQuest Education Journals, ProQuest Dissertation and Thesis, ProQuest Central, Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCIISI), ERIC, (Ebsco), SAGE Full-Text Collection (CSA), Google Scholar and Emerald.


The results of this paper revealed the several factors that can create engaging learning experiences for the online learners. The primary factors are as follows: creating and maintaining positive learning environment; building learning community; giving consistent feedback in timely manner; and using the right technology to deliver the right content.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is limited, as it is based on a review of literature. Empirical studies need to be conducted to support the ideas generated in this paper. For example, it is proposed that individual and institutional characteristics play an important role in promoting learner satisfaction in online courses. Additional studies that can explore this aspect in detail are needed.


The paper has both professional and educational implications. The findings of this paper can help identify areas where the instructors and designers of online classes need to focus. The student engagement strategies for online courses identified should assist both experienced and beginning online instructors in the design and successful delivery of online courses. Students taking online courses should find the results of this study invaluable.



The authors wish to acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their professional reviews and feedback.


Chakraborty, M. and Muyia Nafukho, F. (2014), "Strengthening student engagement: what do students want in online courses?", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 38 No. 9, pp. 782-802.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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