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Students’ motivation and engagement in higher education: the importance of attitude to online learning

Abstract

The emergence of online environments has changed the landscape of educational learning. Some students thrive in this learning environment, but others become amotivated and disengaged. Drawing on self-determination theory, we report the findings of a study of 574 undergraduate business students at an Australian higher education institution on their attitude toward online learning, and its impact on their motivation and educational engagement. Data was collected via an e-mail survey and analysed using structural equation modelling and the Hayes’ bootstrapping method. The results of the study were mixed. Attitude to online learning mediated the relationships of both intrinsic motivation to know and extrinsic motivation with engagement, indicating that the design of online learning environments can play a role in enhancing learning experiences. However, attitude to online learning was not found to mediate the intrinsic motivation to accomplish and engagement relationship. A negative mediation effect was partially supported between amotivation and engagement, with study mode found as a moderated mediator to this effect, being stronger and significant for online students as opposed to on-campus students. These results have implications for how students can be engaged online, and the need for educators to design online learning environments that support the learning experience for all students.

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Notes

  1. Only affective attitude → att8 loading was less than .50 in magnitude. Given the significance of the loading (t value = 12.569, p < .001), this loading was deemed as tolerable.

  2. Goodness-of-fit statistics for tests of multi-group analysis and invariance tests can be provided. Please contact authors.

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Appendix

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Table 5 Attitude to online learning scale (AOLS)

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Ferrer, J., Ringer, A., Saville, K. et al. Students’ motivation and engagement in higher education: the importance of attitude to online learning. High Educ 83, 317–338 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00657-5

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Keywords

  • Student engagement
  • Motivation
  • Higher education
  • Attitude to online learning
  • Study mode