Since 2013, Leeds Beckett University has carried out two studies, working with market researchers, into students’ feelings and perceptions of online courses and their learning context. This work has been conducted outside routine data collection for statistical reporting to regulatory agencies, as these exercises do not explore a student’s engagement or behaviour in a rich enough way to assist practitioners in the design of learning products, services and experiences. The unstated philosophy of both studies has been to ground learning behaviour, and hence engagement, in the whole life of the individual student, taking place – in the case of the second study – over an extended time period. These whole-life studies have included research into the students’ emotional lives, as the role of emotions in learning is of interest not only to researchers but also to practitioners, who engage with students in a real-life context rather than an experimental one. This paper describes these two studies, their findings and their value in developing and delivering online courses. The first study (2014) was entirely qualitative, covering a small sample over a narrow time window, but it provided rich, nuanced insights into learning context and motivation. The second study (2016) was a longitudinal study of a much larger sample of students, using a mix of qualitative research and quantitative data collection. Both studies help to contextualise the ‘online student’, whose presence and activities online are subject to institutional measurement, in the ‘whole person’ of the student.
Hewson, E. R. F. (2018). Students’ emotional engagement, motivation and behaviour over the life of an online course: Reflections on two market research case studies. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2018(1). https://doi.org/10.5334/jime.472