My Research Interest

Since I started my graduate studies, my research interest has always been around student motivation and engagement. During my Master’s program, I conducted a study to understand students’ poor engagement in learning. In particular, I examined various correlates of academic procrastination, an indicator of poor engagement, from a self-regulated learning perspective, using mixed methods. Upon the completion of this study, I became more interested in interventions studies that focus on improving and enhancing student engagement.

My current research agenda encompasses augmenting the quality of learning by facilitating student engagement, concentrating on student engagement from motivational perspectives. According to self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985), people demonstrate high quality engagement and deep learning when they are autonomously motivated compared to those who have controlled motivation or others who lack any motivation. My research interests thus involve fostering autonomous motivation and promoting deep engagement in learning. In particular, I am interested in the design of learning environments that can sustain and enhance academic motivation and engagement by employing effective pedagogies, instructional strategies, and technologies.

For my dissertation study, I developed a virtual tutoring technology, Virtual Tutee System (VTS) to improve college students’ poor engagement in academic reading. Grounded in the literature on peer tutoring, self-determination theory (SDT), and role theory, the VTS is designed to augment students’ reading engagement by placing them in the role of tutor. The study examined the effects of the VTS on student engagement in reading and found evidence that the VTS promoted students’ deep engagement in readings. The findings from the study will provide guidance for college instructors regarding the ways to engage their students in academic readings and promote effective learning. Check out this article to learn about the foundational work of the study.

My future research will be conducted along this line of research: fostering students’ active engagement. I plan to continue work on my dissertation topic by exploring the improved use and application of the VTS. In addition, I pursue research on exploring various instructional strategies and technologies that can promote students’ autonomous motivation and high quality engagement in various learning environments. Sources of low engagement in one context are not necessarily the same as those in a different context. Depending on the sources of poor engagement, design of interventions should differ. I am interested in developing adequate motivation- and engagement-enhancing strategies embedded in the design of the learning environment. The ultimate goal of my research is to develop theoretically- and empirically-based design principles and guidelines that present effective instructional strategies for facilitating student engagement adaptive to distinctive learning contexts.


Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination theory in human behavior. New York, NY: Plenum Press.