How to define, measure, and improve quality of online interaction: A scoping review

A. Lupascu
Context / probleemstelling of aanleiding

Probleemstelling (inclusief theoretische onderbouwing en onderzoeksvraag/vragen):

One of the challenges of online education is the decreased interaction between participants. It is believed that the degree of student-student and student-teacher online interaction influences students’ motivation, performance, satisfaction, and engagement. Therefore, Mehall (2021) argues that we need to implement high quality, purposeful interaction in online education. This need is discussed in the literature, yet there is no consensus on how to define, measure, or improve quality of online interaction (QOI) between participants. Such consensus could help educators in designing appropriate interventions to address a lack of interaction in their online modules. Therefore, we aimed to explore the higher education literature on how QOI between participants has been defined, measured, and which interventions are being used to improve it.


We conducted a scoping review, following the steps described by Arksey and O’Malley (2005). We searched the databases PsycINFO, ERIC, Embase, Web of Science, and PubMed for studies mentioning quality of online interaction. A search string was created for each database with the help of an information specialist. The search resulted in 1408 studies. In order to be included, studies had to refer to interpersonal QOI in higher education. A calibration exercise was performed by two researchers. After removing duplicates and retractions, 1070 records remained for title and abstract screening, resulting in 172 articles to undergo full-text screening. After screening, 76 articles qualified for inclusion. The reference lists of included articles were screened for relevance, which resulted in 4 additional articles. From the 80 included articles, text selections that describe definitions, measurements, and interventions were extracted. Descriptive statistical analysis was performed on the measurements, while thematic analysis was performed by two researchers on the definitions and the interventions.

Resultaten (en conclusie):

We found 25 definitions of QOI, which can be grouped in three main overarching themes. Firstly, QOI is defined as the quality of the relationships between participants. Secondly, QOI is the degree of purposeful interaction, which has an aim such as sharing knowledge and new ideas. Thirdly, QOI is the perceived quality, linked to the individual experience of the participants. In 48% out of the 46 studies that reported measurements, questionnaires are used. Other reported instruments include content analysis and rubrics. Finally, we found 34 reported interventions to improve QOI in higher education. We were able to group them into 5 main clusters: (1) enriching the learning environment with tools; (2) improving the social environment; (3) teaching the teacher; (4) designing deliberate purposeful interaction; and (5) educating students about online behavior and the importance of interaction.

Discussie (beschouwing resultaten en conclusie in het kader van de theorie):

As expected, we did not find any consensus on how to define, measure, or improve QOI between participants. This lack of consensus is counterproductive for advancing our understanding and the practice of online education. However, with this scoping review, we were able to group the definitions in three main themes, to compile a list of all available instruments to measure QOI, and to reveal the main components of interventions that aim to improve QOI. As we uncovered the components of QOI, future studies can now choose a component or combine several components for a richer investigation. Our findings can be used by educators and researchers who wish to gain better insight not only into what QOI is, but also into the instruments and tools that can be used to evaluate and improve QOI.


Arksey, H. & O’Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(1), 19-32.

Mehall, S. (2021). Purposeful interpersonal interaction and the point of diminishing returns for graduate learners. The Internet and Higher Education, 48, 100774.

Beschrijving van de interventie/innovatie:
Ervaringen/analyse van de implementatie:
Lessons learned (implicaties voor de praktijk):

Digitaal leren en innoveren Online interactie

Wijze van presentatie:

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