Embedding online activities during lecture time: Roll call or enhancement of student participation?


  • Muhammad Nadeem American University of the Middle East, Kuwait
  • Marion Blumenstein University of Auckland, New Zealand


improving classroom teaching, student learning, active learning, student engagement, lecture attendance, technology enhanced learning, Keller’s ARCS model, student feedback


Student attendance has long polarized the higher education sector with reports of no to little effect on student success to positive relationships between attendance frequency at face to face and synchronous online lectures and better student engagement and achievement. This study investigates the impact of embedded online activities during lecture time on student learning by utilizing students’ portable devices to divert undesirable study behaviors such as gaming and social media activity during class. The aim of the learning intervention is to improve attendance at undergraduate engineering lectures as well as providing better connection to the subject content. Study participants were third year Bachelor of Engineering students enrolled in a mandatory “Digital System Design” course as part of their degree at a major research university in New Zealand. To explore the student experience of embedded active learning tasks on engagement and academic achievement, both qualitative and quantitative data were collected from N = 75 students over a three-year period when the course underwent a re-design utilizing a participatory action research approach. Student focus group discussions and learning analytics data revealed that the completion of online activities during lectures can lead to cognitive overload negatively affecting engagement. However, real-time feedback on learning via synchronization of learning tasks with the lecture content improved student–student and student–teacher connections and thereby contributed to a more positive overall learning experience. The role of stimulating learner motivation and attendance is discussed against Keller’s ARCS model and recommendations for teaching practice are given.


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How to Cite

Embedding online activities during lecture time: Roll call or enhancement of student participation?. (2021). Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 18(8). https://open-publishing.org/journals/index.php/jutlp/article/view/541