This project began as a desperate attempt to increase student engagement in my online classroom at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic. I was having no success at convincing students to interact with me, with each other, and with the content. After turning to the literature for help I found extensive research on engagement strategies in online college classes, a plethora of engagement centered high leverage practices for traditional high school classrooms, and almost no research on increasing engagement in online high school classrooms. So, I decided to do the research myself. I started with the data on traditional high leverage practices and data proven university level online strategies. I then implemented these practices in my social studies classroom alongside social studies specific pedagogy. For a whole quarter I wrote formal lesson plans before instruction and journal reflections afterwards. I also recorded classes and high leverage practices using education technology.

After a thorough document analysis of my lesson plans, journals, and digital records I found that some traditional best practices are extremely engaging online as well. These can be especially effective when implementing them with education technology providers for integrated online formative assessments or social studies disciplinary literacy. Other practices, like flexible groupings, were far less effective online than anticipated. Overall, I was able to greatly improve the engagement in my online classroom, and I found some practices that I will carry over into a traditional classroom.

Exit Requirement

Action Research

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (initial licensure)

Committee Chair

Melanie Landon-Hays

Committee Member

Patrick Croasdaile


online learning, increasing engagement, high leverage practices, distance education, increasing participation, best practices



Type (DCMI Terms)


Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Online and Distance Education

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