UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Antecedents and Learning Outcomes of Online News Engagement O'Brien, Heather, 1977-


User engagement (UE) is a quality of user experience characterized by the depth of an actor’s cognitive, temporal and/or emotional investment in an interaction with a digital system. Currently more art than science, UE has gained theoretical and methodological traction over the past decade, yet there is still a need to establish empirical links between UE and desired outcomes (e.g., learning, behavior change), and to understand the myriad user, system, contextual, etc. factors that predict successful digital engagement. This paper focuses on the relationship between UE and media format as a potential antecedent, and the outcome of learning, operationalized as short-term knowledge retention. Participants interacted with two human-interest stories in one of four media formats: video, audio, narrative text, or transcriptstyle text; short-term knowledge retention was measured using post-task multiple choice and short-answer questions. It was anticipated that format would have a strong effect on UE, and that more engaged users would recall more information about the stories. However, these hypotheses were not fully supported, and the nature of the relationship between UE and learning was more nuanced than expected. This research has implications for the design of information systems and, more fundamentally, the impetus to make digital environments engaging.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International