Student Engagement – Strategies for Involving Students in Their Learning

With new distractions and new ways of procrastinating, student engagement is often a challenge. When thinking of student engagement, it’s often easy to picture a classroom full of attentive, prepared students. Yet for some, engagement is a struggle.

A student who is engaged can be described as having good behaviour and a positive attitude; someone who practises thinking and attempts to understand. Some students may express the behavioural and emotional actions that show them to be a listening and engaged student. However, the student may not express any mental efforts or energy to understand nor employ the knowledge.

An easy way to assist with students’ engagement is by using colourful resources and ensuring the activity is both visually appealing and stimulating. Adding variety to students’ education in the way of visual learning provides an alternative way to process and practise content. The simple act of designing a visual of the information, like letting students brainstorm with a piece of paper and a pen, allows students to create and construct their learning while keeping them physically and mentally engaged.

Letting students know why they are completing the task is also an additional strategy that promotes engagement. By making the activity meaningful to students, they can detect why the activity is important and therefore how it will assist their learning. Connecting the activity to previous knowledge or information they have covered is a way to show students why they are learning and therefore instigate a desire to engage.

Anxiety, fear of failure and other pressures of school are just some explanations for why students lack engagement. To overcome this, a sense of achievement needs to be fostered throughout learning. When a student is understanding and absorbing the information, the student feels accomplished and is willing to proceed due to the acknowledgement of their success. Likewise, comments of encouragement and positive feedback make up the tiny successes that contribute to the overall engagement of a student.

Engagement can also depend on the type of environment the student is learning within. A loud, distracting and negative environment sets the scene for a loud, distracted and disengaged student. An environment that welcomes and supports the ideas of all students and uses informational as opposed to controlling language is a positive, affirming environment that is ideal for student engagement.

Most significantly, a positive tutor-student relationship should be established. Once the student is confident the tutor cares about his or her needs, displays enthusiasm and is willing to provide one-on-one time, engagement can be sustained.

Engagement is vital for all students. Being present and attentive allows students to comprehend and absorb information. Additionally, a one-on-one, positive learning environment opens an opportunity for student questioning and understanding and therefore a better gauge of the student’s learning.