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Journal of Chemical Education

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Student-centered learning, Chemistry -- Study and teaching (Higher), Active learning, Motivation in education -- United States


Investigating student engagement in active learning activities could provide valuable insight into variations of student learning outcomes when active learning is included in a course. This study sought to explore students’ engagement in relation to active learning activities incorporated in a general chemistry lecture course using the Activity Engagement Survey (AcES). The AcES can be used to simultaneously assess students’ overall engagement, as well as dimensions above and beyond overall engagement including their combined behavioral/cognitive engagement, emotional engagement, and social engagement. As students’ engagement may be influenced by aspects related to the learning environment and context, differences in engagement were explored between students who chose to work on active learning activities with others and those that chose to work independently, as well as between activities completed in a remote environment versus an in-person environment. Results indicated that students who worked with others had significantly higher behavioral/cognitive and overall engagement than those who worked by themselves. Comparisons of students’ engagement between the two types of learning environments, however, could not be justified due to insufficient evidence to support consequential validity. As higher student engagement in a course has been found to lead to improved student learning outcomes, the relation between students’ engagement in the activities and students’ understanding was assessed through multiple linear regression. Results indicated that students who were more behaviorally/cognitively engaged in an activity scored higher on exam items related to the content covered on the activity; emotional and social engagement were not found to be significant predictors.


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in The Journal of Chemical Education. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in The Journal of Chemical Education and can be found online at:



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