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Relationships between students’ course perceptions, engagement, and learning

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which college students’ perceptions of a course predicted their engagement and, subsequently, their learning in the course. This study is needed because relatively few studies have examined the relationships between several different class perceptions, engagement, and learning (as opposed to achievement). Understanding which class perceptions are significantly related to engagement and learning could help instructors design interventions to increase those perceptions. Participants included 355 students in a psychology course at a large, public university in the southeastern U.S. Students completed an online survey about their course perceptions, behavioral engagement, and cognitive engagement. In class, students completed a pretest and final exam that was used to calculate a learning score. We tested hypothesized path models that included measures of students’ class perceptions, engagement, and learning and confirmed that students’ class perceptions were not directly related to their learning; but instead, their class perceptions predicted their engagement, which then predicted their learning. Students’ perceptions of empowerment (i.e., their ability to have choices and make decisions) and the extent to which the course content was useful to their goals were particularly important in predicting their cognitive engagement. An implication of these findings is that if instructors want to increase students’ cognitive and behavioral engagement, they could use strategies that would lead to increases in students’ perceptions of empowerment and usefulness.

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Correspondence to Brett D. Jones.

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Jones, B.D., Carter, D. Relationships between students’ course perceptions, engagement, and learning. Soc Psychol Educ 22, 819–839 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-019-09500-x

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Keywords

  • Engagement
  • Academic motivation
  • Effort
  • Learning
  • MUSIC Model of Motivation