Date of Award

Fall 9-22-2021

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Joe Olmi, Ph.D.

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Hans Stadthagen, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Crystal Taylor, Ph.D.

Committee Member 3 School



With the emergence of online courses in the mid-1990s, the number of students enrolled in online courses has been growing at an exponential rate (Schwirzke, Vashaw, & Watson, 2018). This trend brings with it new problems, such as familiarity with evidence-supported behavioral techniques that will maintain student engagement and improve likelihood of academic success in online learning environments. The purpose of the present study was to examine how the use of praise may affect visual engagement with video lectures with the assistance of commercially available eye tracking technology. A secondary objective of the study was to identify how praise affects performance on post-lecture knowledge assessments of information delivered through online videos. Results indicated that three out of four undergraduate participants were visually engaged with the video lecture more when provided praise than in the absence of praise, while the fourth participant showed ceiling effects. Results also indicated that praise did not have a significant effect on post-lecture knowledge assessment accuracy. These results indicate that praise may have utility in improving visual engagement in online learning environments and that inexpensive eye tracking technology may be useful for measuring visual engagement in these environments.