10 Ways to Promote Student Engagement

Student engagement is another of those buzz phrases popular in higher education. As with many regularly used terms, everyone assumes we are talking about the same thing; but when asked for definitions, either we are hard pressed to come up one or what’s offered is a decidedly different collection of definitions. Here’s an article that includes clear definitions and, based on a creative synthesis of research, offers 10 ways to promote student engagement.

The authors propose definitions broad enough to include more specific descriptions. For example: engagement is “students’ cognitive investment in, active participation in, and emotional commitment to their learning.” (p. 168) Or, engagement is “students’ involvement with activities and conditions likely to generate high-quality learning.” (p. 168)

Based on this synthesis of research, student engagement can be promoted in the following ways:

1. Enhance students’ self-belief — There is no agreement in the research literature as to what motivates learners to engage, but the dominant view is that students engage when they act as their own learning agents working to achieve goals meaningful to them. This means that what students believe about themselves as learners is very important. They must believe they can learn, including that they can overcome and learn from failure. Giving students some control over learning processes helps develop this confidence and commitment to learning.

2. Enable students to work autonomously, enjoy learning relationships with others, and feel they are competent to achieve their own objectives — “When institutions provide opportunities for students to learn both autonomously and with others, and to develop their sense of competence, students are more likely to be motivated, to engage and succeed.” (p. 170) Not unrelated to the first recommendation, the focus here is on cultivating intrinsic motivation, which fosters the self-determination that leads to engagement.

3. Recognize that teaching and teachers are central to engagement — Much research places teachers at the heart of engagement.

4. Create learning that is active, collaborative, and fosters learning relationships – “Findings acknowledge that active learning in groups, peer relationships, and social skills are important in engaging learners.” (p. 171)

5. Create educational experiences for students that are challenging and enriching and that extend their academic abilities — Easy learning activities and assignments are not as effective at engaging students as activities and assignments that challenge them.

by Maryellen Weimer, PhD

Read more @ http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/10-ways-to-promote-student-engagement/

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