Student Engagement Strategies

How student engagement strategies can fit in your classroom

In a classroom where engagement is emphasized, students are asked to participate more rigorously in the learning process and sometimes even in course design. Lectures still exist, but they now incorporate multimedia, technology, and class participation. In hybrid and online learning environments, this can mean polling, class-wide discussions, and competitive activities. These engaging, relevant activities for students can energize your classroom and take learning to a new level, wherever it takes place.

By engaging in hands-on activities, students learn to support, trust and listen to each other, while developing important skills like collaboration and communication skills that can’t be learned from a textbook, interactive or not. Learning to get along with peers, for example, isn’t something you can pick up through memorization.

Student engagement is closely linked to student achievement. Numerous studies have found that when instructors use strategies that are explicitly designed to get student’s attention and to actively engage them in the learning process—test scores and graduation rates increase, and learning objectives are more likely to be met, which makes understanding how to engage students even more important for instructors.

What are student engagement strategies?

Student engagement strategies are activities, tactics, and approaches educators can leverage during and after class to keep students invested in their learning. They can be used to increase active learning, participation, and collaboration in the classroom and can be everything from simple changes made in your next class to a complete revamp of your curriculum, course delivery, and assessment methodology. Here are some creative strategies for engaging students in learning ranging from small changes to more substantial pedagogical shifts.

Student engagement strategies for your teaching

  1. Active learning: Create a teaching and learning environment primed for student participation, such as calling on students to answer a question, individual reflection, and group problem-solving.
  2. Classroom management strategies: Classroom strategies help instructors build a distraction-free environment. As an instructor, you can build in student engagement by asking learners to help shape classroom rules. As an activity in the first week of classes, decide on a set of shared values and create a set of guidelines, like active listening, what respectful disagreements look like, and how to create a safe space for questions.
  3. Set expectations: At the beginning of a course, ask students what they expect from you and then try to meet those expectations. Students are more engaged when they have a good relationship with the instructor.
  4. Think-pair-share: Think-pair-share encourages students to work together to solve problems. Students take a few moments of individual reflection to gather their thoughts on a given topic. Then, have them discuss their thoughts with a peer. Next, have the pair of students form a group with another pair and encourage the group of four to inquire about one another’s opinions.
  5. Make the course relevant: Students want courses to be relevant and meaningful. Use real-world examples to teach; where the course is relevant to a specific occupation, ensure it’s aligned with the current needs of the occupation.
  6. Cooperative learning: How to increase student engagement? Encourage students to work together by arranging them in partners or small groups to help them achieve learning goals. Group work can include assignments, discussions, reviews, and lab experiments—even having students discuss a lesson with their peers.
  7. Quick writes: During each lesson, ask students to write down their questions, thoughts, and points of clarification. This is an easy-to-implement way to encourage students to think critically and analytically about the course content.

Focus on Building Positive Student-Faculty Engagement

  • Create a safe classroom climate that is warm, open, and organized to promote feelings of belonging
  • Provide experiences that build upon students’ strengths and instill a sense of purpose
  • Use a variety of assessment instruments that can be readily scored
  • Interact with students. Learn their first names, talk after class, smile, praise performance, and actively respond to create positive faculty-student relationships
  • Strive to understand each student’s challenges and potential
  • Ensure that students feel comfortable with the materials and teaching styles
  • Identify at-risk students and offer appropriate training and guidance
  • Provide concrete experiences and engage students to process deep learning

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