This is the paper Eunice Ivala is going to present at the ICEL 2012 conference.
One of the challenges facing higher education institutions in South Africa is low throughput of students. Although there is empirical evidence to support the view that enhancing students’ engagement increases student’s academic performance, little is known about effective approaches to create students’ sustained engagement with learning resources. This paper argues that use of digital stories has potential to foster students’ engagement with their studies which could impact on student’s success. Student engagement (the amount of physical and psychological energy that students devote to educationally purposeful activities) is one of the factors shown empirically to enhance student success at higher education institutions. In response to the above challenge, this study investigated the potential of digital storytelling in enhancing student levels of engagement with their studies amongst 29 final year pre-service student teachers and their lecturers’ at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa, as part of their final year professional development course. Using Andersons (2003) model of learning interactions, the researchers were able to analyse, understand and describe the potential of digital storytelling in enhancing student engagement with their studies. The study employed qualitative methods of collecting data. Focus group interviews were conducted with the students and the facilitators of the project to elicit whether the production of digital stories led to student engagement. Focus group interviews were recorded on tape, transcribed and analysed focusing on the identification of conceptual themes and issues emerged. The data analysis techniques, in particular clustering, making contrast and comparisons were used. Findings of the study showed that the production of digital stories enhanced student levels of engagement with their studies, which led to a deep understanding of the subject matter.
Keywords: student engagement, model of learning interactions, digital storytelling, digital stories, digital literacy skills