Aiming for Active Student Participation in Online University Lessons: A Case Study of Two Teachers During Emergency Remote Teaching

Studia paedagogica: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education


While learning is most effective when students are actively engaged, student participation in university classrooms is usually dominated by monologic teacher talk. Digital technologies are often seen as a way to enhance active student participation, yet most reports show that the emergency remote teaching that used digital technologies during the COVID pandemic worsened student participation. We look at active student participation in the synchronous online university lessons of two teachers with shared views on the importance of active student participation but differing approaches to online teaching. We employed a range of tools, including multiple lesson observations over time, line-by-line micro-analysis of the lessons, analysis of discourse moves based on Hardman’s coding system, network visualizations of interactions, and interviews with the teachers reflecting on their teaching. With these tools, we aimed to link the teachers’ views of online teaching with their teaching practices and with the resulting active student participation in their online lessons. The findings of our study indicate that teachers’ views of online teaching can significantly influence their teaching practices. We found that the view that online teaching can serve as a substitute for contact teaching has a detrimental effect on teacher ability to employ the practices necessary for active student participation in online settings. We suggest abandoning the idea of online teaching as a substitute for contact teaching. Instead, online and contact teaching should be seen as two distinct entities requiring different teaching practices. We discuss specific teaching practices that we observed in relation to their role in promoting active student participation in online lessons.

Klíčová slova:
emergency remote teaching; online learning; COVID teaching; interactive lessons; case study; mixed design


[1] Abdullah, M. Y., Bakar, N. R. A., & Mahbob, M. H. (2012). Student’s participation in classroom: What motivates them to speak up? Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 51, 516–522.

[2] Baber, H. (2020). Determinants of students’ perceived learning outcome and satisfaction in online learning during the pandemic of COVID-19. Journal of Education and e-Learning Research, 7(3), 285–292.

[3] Barnes, D., & Todd, F. (1978). Discussion and learning in small groups. Routledge.

[4] Bernard, R. M., Abrami, P. C., Borokhovski, E., Wade, C. A., Tamim, R. M., Surkes, M. A., & Bethel, E. C. (2009). A meta-analysis of three types of interaction treatments in distance education. Review of Educational research, 79(3), 1243–1289.

[5] Børte, K., Nesje, K., & Lillejord, S. (2020). Barriers to student active learning in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 1–19.

[6] Coorey, J. (2016). Active learning methods and technology: Strategies for design education. International Journal of Art & Design Education, 35(3), 337–347.

[7] Englund, C., Olofsson, A. D., & Price, L. (2017). Teaching with technology in higher education: Understanding conceptual change and development in practice. Higher Education Research & Development, 36(1), 73–87.

[8] Ferri, F., Grifoni, P., & Guzzo, T. (2020). Online learning and emergency remote teaching: Opportunities and challenges in emergency situations. Societies, 10(4), 86.

[9] Fischer, E. & Hänze, M. (in press). Course characteristics influencing students’ oral participation in higher education.

[10] Fritschner, L. M. (2000). Inside the undergraduate college classroom: Faculty and students differ on the meaning of student participation. The Journal of Higher Education, 71(3), 342–362.

[11] Hardman, J. (2016). Tutor-student interaction in seminar teaching: Implications for professional development. Active Learning in Higher Education, 17(1), 63–76.

[12] Heron, M. (2018). Dialogic stance in higher education seminars. Language and Education, 32(2), 112–126.

[13] Howard, J. R., & Baird, R. (2000). The consolidation of responsibility and students’ definitions of situation in the mixed-age college classroom. The Journal of Higher Education, 71(6), 700–721.

[14] Klerk, V. D. (1995). Interaction patterns in post‐graduate seminars: Tutor versus student. Language and Education, 9(4), 249–264.

[15] Kuo, Y. C., Walker, A. E., Schroder, K. E., & Belland, B. R. (2014). Interaction, internet self-efficacy, and self–regulated learning as predictors of student satisfaction in online education courses. The Internet and Higher Education, 20, 35–50.

[16] Le, H. T., & Truong, C. T. T. (2021, March). Tertiary students’ perspectives on online learning during emergency remote teaching in the context of Covid-19: A case study. In 17th International Conference of the Asia Association of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (AsiaCALL 2021) (pp. 203–210). Atlantis Press.

[17] Lefstein, A., & Snell, J. (2014). Better than best practice: Developing teaching and learning through dialogue. Routledge.

[18] Lei, S. I., & So, A. S. I. (2021). Online teaching and learning experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic – A comparison of teacher and student perceptions. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 1–15.

[19] Lintner, T. (2021). Studying student communication during synchronous online university teaching with social network analysis. In Pixel. Conference Proceedings. The Future of Education 2021. Bologna: Filodiritto Editore, pp. 167–172.

[20] Maybin, J., & Tusting, K. (2011). Linguistic ethnography. In J. Simpson (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of applied linguistics (pp. 515–528). Routledge

[21] Mishra, L., Gupta, T., & Shree, A. (2020). Online teaching-learning in higher education during lockdown period of COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Educational Research Open, 1, 100012.

[22] Mortimer, E. F. (1998). Multivoicedness and univocality in classroom discourse: An example from theory of matter. International Journal of Science Education, 20(1), 67–82.

[23] Mustapha, S. M., Abd Rahman, N. S. N., & Yunus, M. M. (2010). Factors influencing classroom participation: A case study of Malaysian undergraduate students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 9, 1079–1084.

[24] Müller, A. M., Goh, C., Lim, L. Z., & Gao, X. (2021). COVID–19 emergency elearning and beyond: Experiences and perspectives of university educators. Education Sciences, 11(1), 19.

[25] Nambiar, D. (2020). The impact of online learning during COVID–19: Students’ and teachers’ perspective. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, 8(2), 783–793.

[26] O’Boyle, A. (2010). The dialogic construction of knowledge in university classroom talk ⦋Doctoral dissertation⦌. Queen's University Belfast.

[27] Pedersen, T. L. (2021). Graph: An implementation of grammar of graphics for graphs and networks.–

[28] Petillion, R. J., & McNeil, W. S. (2020). Student experiences of emergency remote teaching: Impacts of instructor practice on student learning, engagement, and well–being. Journal of Chemical Education, 97(9), 2486–2493.

[29] Richards, K. (2006). ‘Being the teacher’: Identity and classroom conversation. Applied linguistics, 27(1), 51–77.

[30] Shim, T. E., & Lee, S. Y. (2020). College students’ experience of emergency remote teaching due to COVID–19. Children and youth services review, 119, 105578.

[31] Šeďová, K., Nekardová, B., & Rozvadská, K. (2021). Výzva, nebo nemožná mise? Tranzice k online výuce v době pandemie covid–19 očima vysokoškolských učitelů. Studia Paedagogica, 26(3), 51–81.–3–3

[32] Thurab-Nkhosi, D., Maharaj, C., & Ramadhar, V. (2021). The impact of emergency remote teaching on a blended engineering course: Perspectives and implications for the future. SN Social Sciences, 1(7), 1–19.–021–00172–z

[33] Walker, K. A., & Koralesky, K. E. (2021). Student and instructor perceptions of engagement after the rapid online transition of teaching due to COVID‐19. Natural Sciences Education, 50(1), 1–10.

[34] Wdowik, S. (2014). Using a synchronous online learning environment to promote and enhance transactional engagement beyond the classroom. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 31(4), 264–275.

[35] Wells, G., & Arauz, R. M. (2006). Dialogue in the classroom. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(3), 379–428.

[36] Whittle, C., Tiwari, S., Yan, S., & Williams, J. (2020). Emergency remote teaching environment: A conceptual framework for responsive online teaching in crises. Information and Learning Sciences, 121(5/6), 311–319.–04–2020–0099

[37] Wood, A. K., Galloway, R. K., Sinclair, C., & Hardy, J. (2018). Teacher–student discourse in active learning lectures: case studies from undergraduate physics. Teaching in Higher Education, 23(7), 818–834.







PDF (English) views