How Instructors Engage Students in Online Courses: A Correlational Study From the Perspective of Transformational Leadership

Jiabing YIN, Jianjun YIN


Universally accepted as a long-term critical strategy in higher educational institutions (HEIs) over the past two decades, online courses have recently witnessed a tremendous surge since the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic. There is a growing concern among educational stakeholders regarding how to effectively engage students in online courses. Though research efforts have proved significant positive correlations between online instructor transformational leadership (TL) and student satisfaction/learning outcomes, empirical investigations in relation to the correlation between instructor TL and student engagement in college online courses are rare. This paper conducted a quantitative correlational study using two previously well-established survey questionnaires, Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (5X-Short) and Online Community and Engagement Scale, to assess students’ perceptions of online instructor TL behaviors and SE. Spearman’s rank correlation analysis demonstrated that there exist significant positive linear correlations between the concerned variables, and multiple linear regression analysis identified two specific TL factors, Idealized Influence (Attribute) and Intellectual Stimulation, as significant predictors of student engagement in online courses. This paper concludes with the implication that HEIs should encourage the training of online instructors as transformational leaders in instructor professional development session. Limitations and corresponding recommendations for future research are also proposed at the end.


Instructor transformational leadership; Student engagement; Higher education; Online courses

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