Intervention in Online Writing Instruction: An Action-theoretical Perspective

June 01, 2016

This analysis argues for an interwoven perspective of motivation, engagement, agency, and action in Online Writing Instruction (OWI) compiled from shared elements of empirical research in online education, writing instruction, and especially student academic engagement in traditional classrooms, where the research domain is comparatively mature. Engagement is the common element shared by these domains. In online education research, engagement is sometimes understood through intentional student actions. In writing instruction, engagement is commonly understood through human agency. In academic settings, engagement can be seen as a foundational part of Self-Determination Theory, which is comprised of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional engagement ( Deci and Ryan, 1985). Educators often find measures of engagement valuable because they are reliable predictors of student outcomes, and they suggest a reasonable point of intervention for struggling students. A measure of agentic engagement, which describes the extent to which a student exerts agency to personalize a learning experience, could add value to measures of engagement, especially in OWI where actions and agency are integral to student success. In addition, a focus on engagement and intervention/remediation may offer an opportunity for students to succeed in learning online, not just in OWI, which is a valued skill in the workplace.