Undergraduate Student Course Engagement and the Influence of Student, Contextual, and Teacher Variables


  • Adam A. Marx North Dakota State University
  • Jon C. Simonsen University of Missouri
  • Tracy Kitchel University of Missouri




class meeting time, class rank, class size, class status, nonverbal immediacy, student engagement, teacher immediacy behaviors, verbal immediacy


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between undergraduate student course engagement and several independent variables. Total participants included 300 (N) undergraduate students. Students completed three instruments measuring course engagement, teacher verbal immediacy, and teacher nonverbal immediacy. It was concluded that class size and teacher verbalimmediacy significantly predicted student course engagement. Classes under 30 students significantly influenced factors of engagement. The unique influence of immediacy behaviors supported the researchers’ assertions coupled with previous research (Frymier & Houser, 2000; van Uden, Ritzen, & Pieters, 2014; Zepke & Leach, 2010). College teachers should be aware of the role immediacy behaviors play in student engagement within their classrooms. Teachers who demonstrate energy and concern for student learning through being inclusive, encouraging, and clearly communicate expectations can positively influence student engagement in the classroom. Restructuring large courses into smaller working groups could facilitate the opportunity for teachers to approach students more directly and personally. Future research should use observations to assess student behaviors comparing perceived engagement in the classroom. Quantifying the frequency of teacher immediacy behaviors alongside student perceptions could provide context for teacher behaviors. Qualitative studies around factors of engagement could provide context to the cognitive processes behind student behaviors.


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How to Cite

Marx, A. A., Simonsen, J. C., & Kitchel, T. (2016). Undergraduate Student Course Engagement and the Influence of Student, Contextual, and Teacher Variables. Journal of Agricultural Education, 57(1), 212–228. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2016.01212




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