That Synching Feeling: An Exploration of Student Engagement in an Online Environment
In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, universities were forced to shift to an online, remote delivery system. This paper presents the design and evaluation of two skills-based first-year units that were adapted to a predominantly asynchronous mode of delivery. The evaluation results indicate that student engagement was high, and that students felt well-supported by the strong teacher presence throughout their units. Furthermore, the impact of this engagement and support was evident in their final grades and the overall unit completion figures. These findings indicate that individualized support, teacher presence and flexibility are key factors in student success in an online environment. This suggests that asynchronous learning can be valuable to students from various academic backgrounds providing that the content and teacher are readily accessible in various formats and that the teachers are mindful of the complexities of students’ lives outside of an academic setting.