Bridging theory and measurement of student engagement: A practical approach


Means, B., & Neisler, J. (2023). Bridging theory and measurement of student engagement: A practical approach. Online Learning, 27(4), 26-47. DOI:


Learner engagement is well-established as critical for learning online. Professional development for online instructors emphasizes techniques for engaging students, and learning technology products tout features intended to promote engagement (e.g., adaptive content, video, gamification). But the influence of particular instructor practices and of particular learning technology features on theory-based aspects of student engagement is infrequently tested empirically, and even more rarely with Black, Latine,and low-income students, who are more likely to face barriers to learning online. This paper first providesa research-basedtheoretical model of affectiveengagementdeveloped in conjunction withongoing studies of blended learningimplementationsof courseware designed to enhance learning and engagement among historically and systemically marginalized students.Next, the paper describes development of survey-based measures of four components of affective engagement and the use of responses from over 850 students in introductory statistics courses to evaluate the reliability and factor structure of those measures.We conclude with implications for use of the engagement measures in future improvement-oriented research and practice.


  • Julie Neisler
  • Means, Barbara

Reference Type



  • Measurement
  • Student engagement