E-Learning, Engagement, and
Academic Success for Students in
Texas Community Colleges
Foundations of Research in Education
The problem is that community college students in
Texas who take online courses and are not actively
engaged will have lower academic achievement as
measured by their ability to perform all of the
assignments in the course.
Purpose & Need
• The purpose for this review of the literature is to
examine the educational problems that Texas
community college students who take online courses
• Due to the lack of controlled studies in community
college e-learning programs, there is a need to better
understand the importance of the relationship
between engagement and academic success in e-
learning courses for Texas community college students
(Stewart, Harlow, & DeBacco, 2011).
The research questions are as follows:
1. Is there a relationship between the amount of time spent
in the user-friendly online learning environment and
student achievement as measured by their ability to
perform all assignments in the course (discussion forums,
quizzes, examinations, etc.)?
2. Is there a working relationship between the frequency of
interaction in the online learning environment and student
academic achievement as measured by their application of
knowledge in the user-friendly online environment (e.g.
Basic Assumptions of the Research
1. The first basic assumption is that the level of student engagement
is directly tied to a student’s level of e-learning academic success.
Therefore, the greater the amount of engagement and
participation in their courses, the greater the amount of success
they will encounter. Success will be measured by their ability to
learn and apply that knowledge in the online environment.
2. A second basic assumption is that students need to have a
working relationship between their instructor and their fellow
students in order to be successful in their e-learning studies. This
assumption will be measured by the amount of contact the
student has with other students and the instructor (e-mail, forum
response, group projects, interaction during the online lecture,
Major Findings of the Research
Motivation and Attrition of Students Online
Although learning is essential to learning no matter the context,
it is particularly critical when learning online, where students
engage the material, how, and how long, is entirely within their
control (Sansone, Fraughton, Zachary, Butner, & Heiner, 2011).
Students performed at a much higher level when they wanted to learn,
when they were excited about the content. According to Artino &
Stephens (2006), students’ use of learning strategies in an online
course can be explained, in part, by their motivational beliefs and
attitudes toward the learning task.
Major Findings of the Research (cont.)
Time Versus Student Achievement
I worked with the basic assumption that the more time a student put
into their online learning environment, the more successful they
become. According to a study conducted by Beaudoin (2002), he
found that students who spent more time logged into a class positively
influenced their learning perceptions even when the students were
not visibly participating by posting messages, participating in
synchronous discussions, etc., while logged in.
However, the mean course grades for the “invisible learners” were
lower than those of high-visibility learners. This lends credence to the
belief that the more time a student spends logged into their course,
the more successful they become.
Major Findings of the Research (cont.)
Frequency of Interaction Versus Student Achievement
According to Kupczynski et al. (2011), the research devoted to the
importance of interaction in web-based learning is extensive, with most
concluding that faculty-to-student and student-to-student interactions are
important elements of online course design and achievement (Beaudoin,
2002; Picciano, 2002).
In fact, Woods (2002) noted that researchers stress the importance of
interaction between students and instructors to build strong relationships
and foster a sense of community. Students that actively participate in the
course, from discussion-based assignments to e-mail conversations between
students help foster a stronger interest in the course. This interest translates
to a higher overall level of success, as evidenced by their ability to
successfully complete the assignments in the course.
Gaps in the Literature
1. In studies pertaining to motivation and self-regulation were
“strictly correlational in nature; therefore, one cannot infer
causality from the observed relationships” (Artino, &
2. There is a lack of empirical research when detailing low-
visibility participation in an online learning environment, and
the causes of the lack of participation when pertaining to the
frequency of times a student logged into the course
(Kupczynski, Gibson, Ice, Richardson, & Challoo, 2011).
1. The author of this review of literature recommends that the relationship
between the amount of time spent in the user-friendly online learning
environment and student achievement as measured by their ability to perform all
assignments in the course supports the overall problem that the greater the
amount of time students spend in the user-friendly learning environment
provides a greater opportunity for engagement. This increase in engagement is
also a direct reflection on an instructor’s ability to generate interest in the
course, and a positive reinforcement of a student’s ability to remain focused on
successfully completing all assignments in the course.
2. The author of this review of literature recommends that the frequency of
interaction in the online learning environment and student achievement directly
influences a student’s ability to successfully remain engaged and have a direct
impact on their ability to perform all of their assignments in the course. Based on
the research I reviewed, the greater the amount of interaction a student has with
fellow students and the instructor will determine a student’s ability to be
successful. This supports my initial problem statement that the frequency of
interaction will determine the overall success value of a student’s online
Artino Jr., A.R., and Stephens, J.M. (2006). Learning online: Motivated to self-regulate?
Academic Exchange Quarterly, 10(4), 176-182.
Beaudoin, M. F. (2002). Learning or lurking? Tracking the “invisible” online student. Internet
and Higher Education, 5, 147-155.
Kupczynski, L., Gibson, A.M., Ice, P., Richardson, J., and Challoo, L. (2011). The impact of
frequency on achievement in online courses: a study from a South Texas university. Journal
of Interactive Online Learning, 10(3), 141-149.
Picciano, A. G. (2002). Beyond student perceptions: Issues of interaction, presence, and
performance in an online course. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 6(1), 21- 40.
Retrieved from http://www.aln.org/publications/jaln/v6n1/pdf/v6n1_picciano.pdf
Sansone, C., Fraughton, T., Zachary, J.L., Butner, J., and Heiner, C. (2011). Self-regulation of
motivation when learning online: The importance of who, why, and how. Association for
Educational Communications and Technology, 59, 199-212.
Stewart, A.R., Harlow, D.B., and DeBacco, K. (2011). Students’ experience of synchronous
learning in distributed environments. Distance Education, 32 (3), 357-381.