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How University Instructors See Student Engagement and Risk Status: Constructing Definitions with Information from Instructional Practices and Learning Management Systems

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This dissertation studies how teachers in higher education use learning management systems (LMS) to see and understand student engagement and risk status. Educational technology such as LMS are designed with implicit conceptualizations and instantiations of learning related concepts. This study focuses on the concepts of student engagement and risk status as they are prominently featured in LMS metrics and marketing. Based on interviews and surveys from a cross-disciplinary sample of 21 professors at a North American university, this study answers two research questions. First, how do instructors define engagement and risk status? This study showed that instructors define engagement and risk status in rich way. The instructors in this study described engagement in terms of student actions related to deeper thinking about class content and stereotypical class participation. The instructors in this study described risk status in terms of both fixed and changeable risk factors. In a thematic qualitative analysis these conceptual understandings are compared to how the LMS instantiated these concepts. The second research question asks: How does the LMS inform teachers about students' engagement and risk status? The instructors in this study described the LMS informing them through its online activity logs, work submissions, and gradebook. However, most of the participants reported that the LMS had limited usefulness and instead relied on personal interactions with students. To conclude, these findings are interpreted in the contexts of increased demand for constructivist pedagogy, accountability, and datafication. Specific questions are proposed for LMS developers and adopters. These questions center on the argument that throughout the LMS adoption process, from development to use, it is critical to consider conceptual definitions and their alignment if LMS deeply support instructional practice and student learning.

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This item is under embargo until February 14, 2024.