Several theorists have been studying and trying to understand reasons for pupil engagement within a traditional classroom setting. As digital tools such as the internet, home computers, laptops and iPads have become more omnipresent in our lives, theorists have dedicated time towards understanding online learning and the efficacy of online teaching. Theorists such as Valtonen Kukkonen and Väisänen (2009) are interested whether the same quality of learning can be administered online as it can within a traditional classroom setting and whether pupils can change their learning habits and embrace online learning (Valtonen et al, 2009). Moreover, in a digital setting, where the teacher pupil relationship moves from face-to-face relationship building to an online domain with the possibility of both video and audio switched off, the ability of practitioners to meet the needs of their learners becomes more challenging and interventions to get learners back on task more difficult to administer (Yates et al, 2020). The Scottish Government stated in 2016 that it hoped ‘vital digital skills…lead to improved educational outcomes’ (ScotGov, 2016) as part of their national improvement strategy. Learners’ ability to utilise the digital world to increase their learning can only happen if they have access to the necessary tools and if teachers know how to effectively use those tools to build positive relationships (Valtonen et al, 2009).
Work on pupil engagement has put forward several factors why children participate in their work. Theorists suggest that engagement is linked to ‘motivation and participation’ while there are several factors such as ‘autonomy, interest and self-efficacy’ (Skinner et al., 2009); ‘learning-community participation’ (Pike et al., 2011); ‘technological factors such as gamification’ (Cronk, 2012); ‘teacher support’ (Klem & Connell, 2004); ‘peer interaction, class structure, task characteristics and personal needs’ (Fredricks et al., 2004) and behavioural, emotional, and cognitive (ibid). Furthermore, ‘students are more engaged when they are interested in their work, persisting in it despite challenges and obstacles, and taking visible delight in accomplishing work goals.’ (Niemi et al, 2018) With that statement in mind, this academic year has provided serious challenges and obstacles for teaching and learning as school closures has led to the reliance on online digital learning. The coronavirus pandemic has presented educators with a challenge to continue meaningful learning and teaching in a time of great stress and uncertainty for young people. How young people have adapted emotionally is not the task of this enquiry, instead, as lessons have gone online and teachers want to continue both formative and summative assessment strategies and set deadlines through assignments, can the introduction of quiz, in the context of a reward, increase the submission rate of classwork?
This enquiry focused on behaviour engagement: if a pupil participates then they are engaged. The researcher will look at engagement in this context by measuring via assignment submission rates instead of student likes of posts on Teams, answering questions in live lessons or even signing into a live lesson.
The aim of this practitioner enquiry was to find out what happens to submissions rates of assignments when a weekly quiz is introduced to the digital classroom as an incentive for digital online engagement. The enquiry will focus on whether the engagement of pupils improved after the reward of a digital quiz was introduced. Looking at submission rates before the introduction of a digital quiz and then looking at submissions rates after the introduction of a digital quiz as a reward, the aim is to see whether young people respond positively and submit their work more frequently. Engagement is viewed through the lens of participation within the context of this enquiry. If a pupil submitted their work, then they were engaging in digital learning and remaining on track.