Effectiveness of online learning interventions on student engagement and academic performance amongst first-year students in allied health disciplines: A systematic review of the literature





Education, Distance, Students, Health Occupations, Allied Health Occupations, Health Personnel, Systematic Review, Academic Performance, Educational Measurement


Introduction: Online learning has increased in popularity due to its perceived ability to improve access for students. With advancements in technology, traditional barriers such as location, time and space can be readily overcome. However, despite its popularity, there continues to be ongoing debate regarding its effectiveness.

Methods: We searched commercially produced (six databases) and grey literature sources, limiting our search to humans and English language publications. Two reviewers independently screened the search results. Included studies were assessed for methodological quality assessment using the McMaster Critical Appraisal Tool for quantitative studies. Summarised data from the included studies were descriptively synthesised.

Results: We identified a modest body of evidence (19 studies) that indicates that online learning interventions may have a positive impact on student engagement and academic performance for first-year allied health students. This finding should be considered with caution due to methodological concerns about the low-level evidence base arising from lack of adequate and representative sampling, lack of clarity and descriptions regarding the interventions utilised and lack of psychometrically sound outcome measures, just to name a few.

Conclusions: There continues to remain key knowledge gaps in this field, such as who benefits the most, or the least, and the nature of any benefits and limitations, for which ongoing research is required.

Author Biographies

Saravana Kumar, UniSA Allied Health and Human Performance, University of South Australia

Associate Professor

Gabrielle Todd, UniSA Clinical and Health Sciences, University of South Australia

  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience


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How to Cite

Kumar, S., & Todd, G. (2022). Effectiveness of online learning interventions on student engagement and academic performance amongst first-year students in allied health disciplines: A systematic review of the literature. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 23(3), 36–55. https://doi.org/10.11157/fohpe.v23i3.430