Learner engagement is a critical aspect of education. While technology is rapidly developing to act in increasingly personalized, and in some dimensions human, ways, we submit that a human community may uniquely support increased student engagement. This research explored the characteristics and effects of the interactions and relationships that constitute three distinct communities in education and examined their influences on student engagement.In the format of a multiple-article dissertation I present three articles. The first article reviewed relevant literature about interactions, relationships, and communities in education. It focused specifically on online and blended contexts and their connections to student engagement. Interactions, relationships, and community are linked to one another and support student engagement. The second article surveyed students in a blended college preparation program about the relationships they experienced in their academic communities of engagement with online and in-person instructors and peers, family, friends, etc. and how they influenced students' perceptions of their engagement. The support provided by the in-person community is significantly higher than that provided online (p < 0.001). Support also has a significant impact on perceived student engagement (p < 0.001).The third article examined the students' supportive academic relationships and their influence on student engagement through semi-structured interviews. Students report more supportive relationships with their in-person communities and higher engagement there. Supportive interactions, relationships, and community promote higher student engagement. Such connections can be forged online, but in the case of this research were more likely to exist in-person. Supportive communities and the interactions and relationships they encompass should be fostered in learning environments, be they in-person, online, or blended, in order to encourage improved student engagement.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type



learner engagement, higher education, interpersonal relationship, teacher student relationship, interaction, community



Included in

Education Commons