Understanding and Measuring Learner engagement in 2021

Mitch Denton

When management and content creation teams gather and aim to put together a learning plan, one of the main goals is usually learner engagement. The creators and teachers don’t only want the students to retain the information, but to enjoy the lesson, and stay completely engaged and attentive throughout the course. But what even is learner engagement exactly? How does a manager measure the effectiveness of their course, and then curate it to increase the engagement levels?

At Archy Learning, we’re all about engagement. We’ll go over the exact meaning of the terminology along with what key indicators that you need to look out for while monitoring your course and the learners who are engaging with it.

What is “learner engagement”?

In general terms, “student (or learner) engagement”- refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.

Many students and employees are put through learning courses either to complete an academic requirement for a certificate or to upskill in their workplace, and ideally, they should be willing to engage with the subject, but many times the course is a requirement for a larger goal in general. 

There are many different indicators that show or prove engagement in a particular subject, but in today’s digital world, many learners are studying online and remotely, so it is more difficult for educators to measure engagement levels. 

Measuring the engagement levels of learners then has to shift from observing the learners in the classroom to then analyzing data that indicates specific levels of engagement. There isn’t only one metric here that can help educators measure their student’s progress. There are a few, and while monitoring this, as well as asking for feedback, you can ensure that your learners are not only retaining information but staying truly engaged along the learning pathway. 

How can you measure learner engagement?

When you are teaching students in person, engaged students usually are:

  • – Paying attention (alert, tracking with their eyes)
    – Taking notes
    – Listening (not chatting or sleeping)
    – Asking content-related questions
    – Responding to questions (either to you or in small groups)
    – Following requests
    – Reacting in general

With the majority of educational learning activities being online these days, there are a few data metrics a course creator or manager can look out for. In this case, data analytics are they to measure your online courses’ engagement rate.
Metrics such as:

– Completion Rates
– Drop Off rates
– Weekly and monthly active users
– Mandatory vs voluntary learning
– Learning time spent per module
– Feedback surveys
– Since we are an online LMS, let’s quickly go over these in more depth:

  • Completion & drop out rates

  • Completion rates are one of the key ways of measuring your employee’s online engagement levels. Archy Learnings Teacher views allow you to see which students are completing their course content, and which are dropping off prematurely. This will allow you to have a birdseye view of all your student’s learning engagement rates overall. These rates and % completion statistics will give you a direct indication of if the content was engaging enough for the user, or if they simply got bored or discouraged and dropped off along the way.
  • Weekly and monthly active users

  • As standard reporting practice and metrics, your LMS should provide the number of users you currently have in your course, as well as the weekly and monthly activity of the user amount. Usually located on the main dashboard, this data metric will provide valuable insights on how many users are taking your course, and how many of them come back to either repeat particular modules or continue onto new ones. 
  • Mandatory vs Voluntary learning

  • Earlier in the blog, we covered how ideally, an engaged learner actually “wants” to learn, and isn’t forced to, simply to complete a course requirement. There are a few ways to measure the genuine engagement levels of your students, and one way is to offer the voluntary and mandatory course, and see how many of the students take the voluntary training as well. A higher acceptance and complete rate for these usually shows that the learners are eager to learn more on the course subject.   
  • Learning time spent per module

  • Yet another engagement metric, learning time spent allows you to see the total amount of time each user spends on your course content and modules. Are there some courses that learners rewatch content on, or are there some they speed through with no return rates? These are all indicators of engagement levels.

    Feedback surveys

  • One final way we recommend measuring engagement is via feedback surveys. We recommend software such as Survey Monkey. You should in general be requesting feedback in order to see how you can better your course content, but as an engagement metric, the amount of learners who submit the form and provide you with their experience is a great way to measure not only their overall experience with your content but how much they actually engaged with it. These forms will help you better understand and tweak the content to problem solve, and increase engagement overall. 

Pro Tip: Add Gamification

Now, this isn’t a way to measure engagement levels, but it sure is a way to increase engagement! Using gamification elements throughout your course (leaderboards, badges, awarding points), will help your learners feel more motivated throughout the course, and encouraged to continue. Archy Learning provides these gamification elements that you can add to learning and development activities and has partnered with Gamify, allowing for course creators to insert mini-games throughout the learning pathway, which creates a more fun learning environment. You can start for free today!


Learner engagement is arguably the most important part of the success of your online course. Though you can observe students’ engagement levels in person, online learning has created an environment that isn’t always the easiest to read. Utilizing and observing the data from your learners will allow you to observe and document their engagement levels, and change the content along the way if it needs to be.

Would you like more content like this, feel free to check out more blogs here.

Mitch Denton

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