Emily Franklin


Calderhead High

  • Digital Learning: Pupil Engagement

What impact does shortening task length have on the level of pupil engagement during remote learning?


The transition from classroom-based to remote learning has brought with it several challenges related to the delivery of teaching and pupil learning. A recent report by Education Scotland has highlighted concerns from teachers and schools regarding the significant reduction in levels of pupil engagement during the current lockdown (Education Scotland, 2021). Pupil engagement, in the context of this enquiry, refers to “the student’s psychological investment in and effort directed toward learning” (Newmann et al. 1992 cited in Martin and Bolliger, 205/206). This downward trend in pupil engagement must be addressed promptly to prevent learners from being at risk of falling behind when they return to the classroom.

After discussion with the other practitioners in my group, it was evident that we had all observed a decline in levels of pupil engagement in our subject areas. In my personal experience, only a small proportion of pupils in my BGE Social Studies classes were submitting their work to me and even then it was apparent that the vast majority of these pupils were not working to their full potential. Engagement with the content online is essential if pupils are to “become more independent in their learning…and rise to the challenge of stretching themselves to the limit” (Griffith and Burns, 2012, 2).

Lumsden (1994) suggests that levels of pupil engagement in the classroom can be increased by breaking large tasks into a series of smaller tasks as this reduces the likelihood of pupils being discouraged and overwhelmed by the workload (Brewster and Fager, 2000). This enquiry will determine if this is the same in the case of remote learning.


The purpose of this practitioner enquiry was to determine what impact, if any, does shortening the length of tasks pupils are presented with during remote learning have on levels of pupil engagement.

Download Practitioner Enquiry