Student Engagement in a Digitally-mediated Environment: Attitudes and Experiences of Student Advisers

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2021)
Title: Student Engagement in a Digitally-mediated Environment: Attitudes and Experiences of Student Advisers
Stream: Counselling, Guidance & Adjustment in Education
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Maurice Kinsella, University College Dublin, Ireland
Niamh Nestor, University College Dublin, Ireland
John Wyatt, University College Dublin, Ireland
Deirdre Moloney, Dublin City University, Ireland
Joan Connolly, Dublin City University, Ireland


Students’ healthy engagement with higher education (HE) can make vital contributions to their psychosocial development, educational attainment and future employability. However, it is important to note that how engagement is enabled, experienced, and assessed within Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) is evolving. This shift is evidenced in the growing interconnectivity between HEIs’ interpersonal and digital engagement resources. Alongside this, staff and students’ reliance on digital mediation, in which digital technologies are used to facilitate and sustain student communications, has grown exponentially across academic, advisory, and administrative domains in the wake of COVID-19. In light of this growing demand for digital mediation and its increased prominence within HE student supports, our project undertakes a qualitative exploration of Student Advisers’ experiences working in the interface between interpersonal and digital-engagement resources. We examine their experiences of and attitudes towards student engagement; their insights into the proliferation of digital communications and the challenges and opportunities this has entailed; and how they have sought to ensure service continuity amid such rapid transformations. By deconstructing the dichotomy between digital and interpersonal supports and recontextualising them within Student Advisers’ lived experience, we aim to re-evaluate the nature and role of student engagement against the needs currently facing the HE sector. Here, we develop an original conceptual matrix detailing student engagement’s core components and characteristics within a contemporary context. Through this framework, we critique digital mediation’s role within, and impact on, HEIs, arguing that digital supports and resources should seek to enhance interpersonal encounters rather than replace them.

Virtual Presentation

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