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


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