Effect of Optional Assessments on Student Engagement, Learning Approach, Stress, and Perceptions of Online Learning during COVID-19

David M Beauchamp, Jennifer M Monk


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, courses were forced into an online format as universities paused in-person learning and consequently, students were required to adjust to online learning. The objective of the current study was to determine the effect of optional assessments designed to promote engagement in a fourth-year asynchronous online nutritional science course. Seven optional engagement assessments were assigned and students’ stress levels, learning approach, and perceptions of online learning were assessed via surveys at the start and end of the semester. A total of 79.8% (n=210) students completed all seven optional engagement assessments. Further, 56.6% (n=149) reported that the assessments helped them feel more engaged with course content. Perceived stress levels did not change during the semester. Surface learning approach scores increased from the beginning to end of the semester, whereas deep learning approach scores remained unchanged. Surface learning scores were positively correlated with experiencing more stress from organizing and maintaining a schedule, more stress associated with time management, and finding time management more challenging. Deep learning approaches were positively correlated with students feeling engaged in the course, comprehending the course content, and stimulating new ideas/perspectives. Collectively, this data demonstrates that optional engagement assessments can improve student perceptions of online learning, however, these outcomes are related to students’ use of surface versus deep learning approaches.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v11n5p87


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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email: ijhe@sciedupress.com

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