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Faculty Resources for Online Teaching

Engagement Types


Model students - High use and high performance. Students' expectations of online learning environments are in line with teaching intentions. These students understand what is expected of them and therefore learn appropriately as they make best use of all of the resources and learning opportunities available to them.

Traditionalists - Low use and high performance. These students favour face-to-face and print-based learning. They are clear about this preference and learn appropriately from it. This group also objects to correspondence that implies a link between their lack of use of the online learning environment and poor motivation and performance. 

Geeks - High use and low performance. There is a mismatch between student and teacher intentions for the online learning environment. Geeks may interpret the online learning environment as a distance learning course or simply be motivated but the technology rather than the course content or learning activities.

The disengaged - Low performance and low use. They start off badly and never recover and increasingly operate at the periphery of the organization. They learn inappropriately and fail at assessment points as they do not access the information to them about how to succeed. They procrastinate on doing things and find ways to delay work to be done. 

Discussion (Malty and Mackie, 2009)

At best, as evidence by the model learners, online learning promotes a positive climate and thereby student engagement as students benefit from flexibility and access to a wider range of resources. 

At worst, as evidence by the disengaged learners, online learning promotes a negative environment where students get the inappropriate sense that learning does not have to be captured at the moment and can be put off to some vague future date.



Lee, M. G. (2001). Profiling students’ adaptation styles in Web-based learning. Computers and Education, 36(2), 121–132.

Maltby, A., & Mackie, S. (2009). Virtual learning environments – help or hindrance for the ‘disengaged’ student? Alt-J, 17(1), 49–62.

Teaching Math Online by Matthew Cheung. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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