Exploring the Effectiveness of Online Learning in Social Work ...

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Online learning has become a hallmark of higher education, and social work education is not an exception. Even though there may have been initial hesitation within social work education to implement online courses and programs with practice-based components, the advantages and feasibility of online education have led to its increasing popularity in this field. However, there have been few studies that have examined students’ perceptions of online learning and the strategies that contribute to successful online education in social work education. The current study examines the experiences of seventy social work students in online learning to identify effective strategies for engaging in the online classroom through the use of the Online Engagement Strategies Questionnaire (OESQ). A descriptive analysis showed that the most effective engagement strategies for the participants of this study were found in the learner-to-instructor and learner-to-content subscales, respectively. This indicates that the interactions between learners and instructors, as well as the learners’ engagement with the course content, played a significant role in their overall engagement and learning experience. Discussions and implications are discussed based on the transactional distance theory (TDT) to assist faculty in developing an understanding and maximizing the effectiveness of student learning in the online classroom and preparing social work students with the knowledge and skills required to enter the profession.