What did the pilot study find?

TThe Self-Report Measure of Engagement with Learning Activities (MELA-SR) was initially developed and tested over the summer of 2020. We found that this multi-component low-inference, non-judgmental measure of engagement is feasible for use with online survey methods such as Qualtrics. Our new measure is quick, intuitive and sensitive to context and to individual differences.

What were the aims of the pilot study?

The aims of the piloting were to: 

  • Assess the feasibility of the online survey method and affordances of different formats.
  • Assess sensitivity of the items to tap into different components and subconstructs of engagement.
  • Assess the sensitivity of the measure to differences between learning contexts and between individuals or groups.
  • Review the implications of analysis methods for the format of the survey.

Why does the new version not use a Likert Scale?

The initial version of the Self-Report Measure of Engagement with Learning Activities (MELA-SR) used a 5-part Likert scale response choice for each of these items, from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Likert scales allow for a degree of sensitivity and differentiation of response, but can be susceptible to clustering or mid-point effect in which a respondent tends to cluster their responses around one end or another, or opts for the mid-point for all the items.

In the new versions of the measure, instead of statements to be read, considered and evaluated for level of agreement, a simple list of constructs was used. This makes completion of the survey quick and intuitive as well as supporting a positive approach to diversity – the format makes it clear that all experiences are valid and positive.

Are there differences between learning contexts?

Yes, the results of the pilot study showed that students’ experience of engagement varied between types of learning activity. Interestingly, different aspects (components) of engagement seem to be important in different contexts.

Distribution of Component Scores for Each Mode of Learning in MELA-SR

Is neurodiversity important for understanding engagement with learning?

Yes, the pilot study showed us that even our small pilot sample suggested that different groups experience learning differently. We saw differences between groups in the overall engagement between learning contexts and we also saw differences in the comparative importance of the engagement components (behavioural, emotional, cognitive and social engagement).

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