Häme University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN22 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 8373-8376
ISBN: 978-84-09-42484-9
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2022.1985
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
The aim of this research is to gain a comprehensive understanding on the aspects that contribute to higher education students’ engagement when language studies are implemented with blended learning or online method. The theoretical frame comprises the ecological language learning approach and the notion of engagement.

This research includes three sub-studies, each of which focuses on one language course in a university of applied sciences. In sub-study I, the participants were first-year health care students in a professional English course. The course implementation was based on gamification and a background storyline in which the students were on their practical training period in Spain. The main platform was Seppo-educational game platform. Sub-study II explores the opportunities a telecollaboration project between Finland and New Zealand provides for student engagement. The participants were Finnish business administration students and higher education students of various fields in New Zealand. The target language in the project was German and the main platform for collaboration was a closed Facebook group. Sub-study III investigates a Business English course with different kind individual and collaborative tasks. All course designs deployed multimodality and various digital tools and they were implemented with the blended learning approach.

The data comprises reflective learning diaries in sub-studies I and III, and face-to-face interviews in sub-study II. In addition, pre-and post-course online questionnaires provided secondary data in all sub-studies. The qualitative data were analysed with content analysis methods and the quantitative data with basic statistic methods.

The results indicate that for student engagement, the teacher has an essential impact. The teacher is responsible for the implementation prior, during and after the course. In addition, they need timely knowledge on digital tools, but they also need to master the traditional teacher competences such as subject content, pedagogy, guidance, facilitating and interaction. Teacher is also in the key role in establishing the learning atmosphere which in turn contributes to student engagement. Secondly, students’ own activities affect immensely on their engagement. Similarly, collaboration with peers is beneficial for engagement, provided that the students have prepared themselves properly before the collaborative work. Carefully created course design with meaningful, authentic learning activities and relevant digital tools enhance student engagement and offers students enjoyable and purposeful learning experiences.
Student engagement, higher education, online learning, language learning.