If there is any word or a phrase that decides whether your lesson was a success or not, it is student engagement. Why would one sum-up all your effort in this short phrase, student engagement? You are a great teacher. You plan excellent lessons, and your school administration is quite satisfied with your teaching skills then why is it that most of the time the instructional coach often tells you that in your lesson your students were not engaged?
Consider this scenario:
It is Monday morning- another day, another week and another lesson. You are all excited to teach the lesson you spent days planning, but by the end of the lesson, you find yourself thinking in your head, “I did my best, but why did my students not enjoy the lesson and all these activities? Derrick was totally distracted. Marry was having a hard time working with Sally. Josh, Nick and Sam had been doodling in their notebooks throughout the lesson. Why did they not participate in the class discussion? Why aren’t my teaching strategies working?”
Does this sound familiar? Of course! It happens to the best of teachers too.
In this post we will explore the meaning of student engagement, its importance and the different forms student engagement takes.
Simply put, student engagement, on the surface of it, means engaging students in meaningful learning activities in such a way that the student learning takes a meaningful form which in turn improves student achievement. Research has proven that improved student achievement is a result of higher student engagement in meaningful learning activities. Many researches have proven the direct relationship between improved academic success and student engagement. When students are engaged, they show positive behaviors towards their learning, take ownership of it, associate positive feelings with it, and strive for improvement.
Additionally, true engagement of students means that the students invest their time, energy and interest in learning, and display a willingness to improve their understanding about the topic under study.
According to The Glossary of Education Reform, student education is “the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.”
This definition is based on the premise that learning improves when students are engaged, show inquisitiveness, curiosity, keenness to learn and higher levels of interest in their learning.
Now, let’s take a look at the various forms student engagement takes and what it looks like in the classrooms.
Why Is Student Engagement Important?
In order to create, maintain and nurture a safe, encouraging and inclusive learning environment, schools around the globe have started to develop their student engagement policies. Such policy serves as a guiding document to help the schools create a positive culture, sustain a safe and supportive environment, promote school attendance, improve student involvement and achievement, and promote positive behaviors while maintaining discipline. You can find a sample student engagement policy here. The policy not only helps the school administration invest their resources in the right direction but also works in the best interest of the teachers and students.
What Are The Forms of Student Engagement:
Now that we know the basic meaning of student engagement, the question is, “What forms can student engagement take?”
Broadly speaking, it can take the following forms:
- Cognitive Engagement / Intellectual Engagement
- Behavioral Engagement
- Emotional Engagement
Cognitive or Intellectual Engagement can be observed when students are deeply involved in their learning. They go above and beyond the basic requirements of the learning tasks at hand, show inquisitiveness and ask questions to clarify their concepts. Simply put, when students are intellectually or cognitively engaged, they are highly motivated, and engrossed in their learning as they use their thinking skills to achieve the learning outcomes.
One can estimate students’ behavioral engagement by observing their concentration levels and participation in the learning activities. Any signs of negative behavior or low participation or low social involvement may indicate low behavioral student engagement.
Emotional engagement can be observed by noticing students’ feelings towards their learning, their overall attitude towards the subject/course, teachers, peers and school. Students’ emotional engagement is reflected in their behavior towards their overall academic experiences.
In conclusion, if you want to improve student learning, it is a good idea to look for signs of low engagement of students, identify its type and its possible reasons. Once identified, you can definitely alter your course of action to improve your teaching and your students’ learning.
So, do you have any student engagement stories you would like to share with me? I would like to read them. You may also post your student engagement issues below in comments, and I will see what type of student engagement issues your students are facing, and how you can help them.
In my next post, I will share some of my tried and tested student engagement strategies to help you boost your students’ engagement in your lessons.