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  • Simon Yates

3 Must-Do’s for Maximizing Student Engagement

Student engagement.

This is the crowning jewel in every professor’s crown across the globe.

This buzz word, especially during these unprecedented times in education, has become the topic of discussion among educators everywhere.

How can I keep my students engaged? How do I track student engagement? What strategies can I implement to get the most out of my students?

Dr. Jean Twenge, a highly respected psychologist and professor has spent many years researching student engagement and related generational deviations that influence student’s behaviour and growth over time. Her findings found that broadly speaking, students of today process and absorb new material much differently from students of prior generations.

The real question is, “How can instructors put this research to use in their own classrooms in a practical way?”

Here are three “Must-Do’s” for student engagement:

1. Balance is Key….for You and Your Students

The truth is students and instructors alike have crazy demands for their time and energy. Whether you’re an instructor who is teaching multiple courses with a large caseload of students, a student who is going to school full-time and raising young children, or the classic working full-time while also going to school full-time, the strain on instructors and students has never been greater. Balance is the greatest gift any instructor can give to themselves and their students. Balanced professors are more present, less stressed, and often connect more meaningfully with their students, earning the respect and engagement of their students. Finding this balance for will encourage students to engage in your class while also making it easy for students to understand the fundamental concepts of your class without getting bogged down in the minutia.

What does “balance” look like in the classroom setting? Great question. Balance in the classroom can look quite different for each instructor practically speaking. Some instructors choose to be flexible with due dates for their students, while other instructors may be more flexible with how students contact choosing to let students’ text them as opposed to the traditional office hours routine. The truth is, balance looks like whatever makes you feel the most grounded and centered in your practice as an educator. Whatever balance means to you personally, be sure to introduce your procedures explicitly and early on in the semester to ensure clear expectations are conveyed to your students to keep your “balance” from becoming a burden.

2. Bored? Mix It Up!

Even as educators, I think we can all agree that no one enjoys sitting for extended periods of time to listen to someone else talk. This sentiment is even more true for millennial and iGen students, who tend to have more constrained attention spans according to Dr. Twenge’s research.

Here are some easy ways to spice up any boring classroom routine:

· Encourage students to interact with one another during class (I know it sounds scary, just do it)

· Informal comprehension checks throughout the lesson/lecture

· Assign group work that allows students to choose the final product they want to present

· Give a short quiz before a lecture to gauge students prior knowledge

· Play a short video to peak your students’ interest in upcoming content

3. Feedback, Feedback, Feedback

We all desire feedback more than we know. We want to know how we are doing, what we have mastered, where we are struggling, and ultimately how we can improve. Students crave this feedback even more, and they want this feedback immediately if at all possible.

For students who do not know where they are growing or struggling as individuals it is almost impossible for them to make effective changes or meaningful improvements to how they are learning or approaching their courses. Ultimately, the more feedback we provide our students, the more opportunities we have as educators to impact them and the way they interpret their own learning process. By providing feedback, we also take hold of an opportunity to connect with our students in a meaningful way that encourages them to engage more meaningfully with their course materials.

Here are some ways to increase your opportunities for direct feedback:

· More assessments: Give more frequent exams and quizzes, but reduce the size of each assessment so students have increased opportunities to evaluate their own mastery of each concept

· In-class quizzes: Quizzes given during class have multiple benefits. They not only demand that students listen and engage, but they also give instructors and students alike an opportunity to check their understanding of the material.

· Auto-graded homework: This may not be entirely possible for everyone. However, auto-graded homework gives students a regular source outside of the classroom to receive direct and immediate feedback without adding more to your plate (balance is key, remember). Auto-graded homework can also have a positive correlation with classroom engagement; students who complete the asynchronous work on their own time are more familiar with the topics and will have questions coming into class.

When it comes to student engagement, we are all in this together! At DigiVue, we have created a suite of tools and programmes designed with instructors and students in mind to increase student accountability while also empowering instructors to have meaningful engagements with their students.

Do you have any tips on student engagement that you would like to share with us? Reach out, we would love to hear from you!

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