Music, School of


First Advisor

Rhonda Fuelberth

Date of this Version

Summer 7-30-2021


Liu, X. (2021). Student engagement in higher music education with online learning components: A mixed methods case study. PhD diss. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database.


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Music (Music Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Rhonda Fuelberth. Lincoln, Nebraska: July 2021

Copyright 2021, Xinwei Liu


Higher education underwent an unprecedented transformation from conventional face-to-face education to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2020-2021 academic year, most universities throughout the U.S. had moved educational programs online, so professors and instructors, with and without previous remote learning experience, were suddenly expected to shift to synchronous or asynchronous classroom settings. Facilitated through Learning Management Systems (LMS), many teaching and learning practices took place in web-based environments. Some schools allowed a combination of in-person or hybrid classes by complying with evolving COVID-19 protocols (e.g., use of hand sanitizer, social distancing, facial coverings). These novel implementations raised benefits and challenges for higher education. Previous research studies assert that students tend to become isolated due to fewer interactions within a highly remote learning context. However, few studies have shown how students engage in hybrid educational delivery, and little was known about student engagement in music education courses integrated with online learning components.

The current study investigated student engagement in college music education courses under a mass educational transition induced by the pandemic. This study utilized a mixed methods case study approach, in which a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews concurrently investigated students’ three types of interactions, engaging with instructors, classmates, and learning content. There was no statistically significant difference in student engagement between grade levels. Qualitative analysis provided a more comprehensive and detailed understanding of student experiences as they engaged with online learning elements. The data integration procedure produced three individual cases representing different levels of student engagement (poorly-engaged, moderately-engaged, and highly-engaged cases). The highly-engaged case showed rapid adaptability in committing to innovative learning models, whereas the moderately-engaged case presented a slower adaptation, and the poorly-engaged case displayed the most reluctance in adjusting learning strategies. Recommendations and implications of how online learning components can be better incorporated in music education courses are also discussed.

Advisor: Rhonda J. Fuelberth

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