On the Right Track: Navigational Design Strategies to Improve Student Engagement


Research has demonstrated that student engagement is central to effective online teaching and learning, yet rates of engagement is often lower in online courses. This study draws on Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory and Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning to explain why engagement and performance are difficult in online courses due to navigational problems with online course design. This paper describes and demonstrates design strategies (module sequencing, adaptive release, and spatial instruction) that improve online engagement and performance. The three takeaways fare that: (1) students struggle to navigate their online courses; (2) these navigational difficulties increase cognitive load and decrease meaningful engagement; and, (3) module sequencing, adaptive release, and spatial instruction can promote student engagement by explicitly guiding students through their online courses.


Deanna McGaughey Summers
Assistant Professor, English, Kentucky State University, Kentucky, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


New Digital Institutions and Spaces


Spatiality, Design Strategy, Cognitive Load, Student Engagement

Digital Media

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