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Student Engagement Definition

  1. Engagement invites teachers to design powerful ways of provoking thought and sparking and sustaining interest in an idea, question or problem. To ensure greater engagement it is important to explicitly design for it.
  2. Engagement is thought of as motivation, attention, interest, effort, enthusiasm, participation and involvement. According to Marzano et. al (2011) four topics that constitute the model of attention and engagement are: emotions, interest, perceived importance and perceptions of efficacy.Student engagement involves providing students with opportunities to experience interactive learning/cooperative learning in a supportive environment.
  3. Student engagement involves providing students with opportunities to experience interactive learning/cooperative learning in a supportive environment.

Ways to engage students:

Immersing students into questions, problems, challenges, situations or stories encourages engagement. Organizing student work around problem statements or questions has long been shown to be an effective way to entice and provoke learning. (Wiggins and McTighe, pg. 119) Posing guiding inquiry questions- According to Jeffrey Wilhelm in his book, "Engaging Readers & Writers with Inquiry", guiding questions create a clear focus that connects students to socially significant material and learning. This leads to conversations that bring together the students’ lives, the course content, and the world in which they live as they consolidate concepts, vocabulary strategies and ideas.

Attending to students’ feelings- Marzano states that if students are low on energy or feeling bored, frustrated, or rejected by the teacher or their peers, it is likely that they are not attending to classroom activities. If a teacher does not have a student's attention, there is little hope that the content being addressed will enter his or her working or permanent memory. Teachers can effectively use pacing and incorporating physical movement into lessons to help students feel energized; they can also demonstrate intensity and enthusiasm and use humor to help students feel stimulated. Establishing personal relationships and fostering positive peer relationships in a fair and supportive classroom atmosphere can also be effective.

● Use games and inconsequential competition- Help maintain situational interest. Games should always have an academic focus. They provide opportunities to test understanding through friendly competition. For exercises, check out: strategies.

Initiate friendly controversy- Controversy can trigger and maintain situational interest, especially when opposing views are expressed. Controversy should not be avoided. Friendly controversy should leave the students with some unanswered questions so they seek more information. Class votes on issues, a debate, a town hall meeting - which has students looking at various perspectives - the legal model and perspective analysis are opportunities to initiate friendly controversies around curriculum to create interest.

Use thought provocations such an anomalies, unusual facts, counterintuitive ideas or mysteries invite students into the learning. Present unusual information- Creates a sense of curiosity and entices students to engage by filling in bits of information that may be missing.

Vary questioning- Asking questions excites a student’s working memory, thus eliciting students’ attention. To avoid other students from disengaging, several techniques are considered effective: call on students randomly, paired response, wait time, response chaining, choral response and simultaneous individual responses.

Connecting to students’ lives- Comparison tasks where students relate new knowledge to topics of personal interest. Analogy problems are effective ways to connect to students lives.

Conducting purposeful research- When students are able to use what they have learned to effect change in their communities directly, they are much more likely to feel the work is important, thus connected to engagement.

Thinking critically- Cognitively complex tasks that are perceived as important are engaging for students.

Provide choice- Building choice into activities helps students perceive classroom activities as important. Choice can be provided through allowing students to choose tasks, choice of reporting formats, choice of learning goals and choice of behaviors.

Real world application- Provides students with a sense that what they are doing in school is important. This is by providing tasks that provide a goal that extends beyond the classroom.

Drawing conclusions supported with evidence. Offering different points of view or multiple perspectives  on an issues can intrigue students.

● Involving students in planning

Involving students in monitoring- Develops self-efficacy as students chart their progress, on a specific learning goal, over time.

Using effective feedback- Praising effort and aspects of a task are highly motivational and steer students toward the intended result.

Teaching self-efficacy- Students should be directly involved in discussing self-efficacy and studying it first hand through correlating effort and preparation with achievement.

Involving students in self-reflection

Involving students in peer-reflection

Involving students in progress and results- Tracking can reinforce efficacy and help students feel that they can do the required work. This requires a great deal of planning and preparation by the teacher.