Research shows that student engagement is multidimensional and an important contributor to academic performance and learning outcomes in the classroom (Josephine A. Gasiewski, M. Kevin Eagan, Gina A. Garcia, Sylvia Hurtado and Mitchell J. Chang, 2012; Handelsman, et al., 2005).
Engaging students in a variety of activities promotes more participation in the learning process. As faculty create and implement innovative pedagogy to enhance student engagement by providing a variety of student-centered activities in the instructional activities then students may become active in their learning.
Professors can encourage student engagement and spark students to be active in their learning experience in several ways:
Active Learning Activities
These activities range from large group to small group to individualized experiences. They focus primarily on student experience and real-time reflection or interaction with the content or subject matter.
Some examples include:
- Pausing for reflection or actually writing down one’s thoughts
- Brainstorming sessions where there are no “wrong answers” just input and contributions
- Role-playing or class role debates where students have to defend or argue for a particular position even if and especially when it is something they would not normally defend – looking at a problem from a totally different perspective actually helps one better understand their own position better
- Case studies
- Site visits
It is especially useful for active learning and even raises the bar a bit when students help evaluate their peers’ presentations using an evaluation form that the instructor provides. For example, consider the template for a Christian Worldview group presentation where three students are asked to evaluate the in-class presentation using the form below. And, yes, the professor is also using the same form:
- Evaluator: ________________________________
- Team Members:____________________________________________________
- Chapter/ Heading: _________________________________________________
- Article #1: _______________________________________Total Points_____/20
- ____ (4) Goals ______________________________________________
- ____ (4) Rules ______________________________________________
- ____ (4) Virtues ______________________________________________
- ____ (4) Christian Story______________________________________________
- (4) Worldview questions addressed: ___________________________________
Response Systems (Polling Tools)
…provide opportunities for inclusive activities that allow students to participate in activities, discussions, and assessments. The benefit of use of multiple response system is the immediate feedback that professors as well as the students receive provide instant results of assessments of student learning.
Examples of multiple response systems include handheld clickers and online systems such as Menti.com, Kahoot, PollEverywhere and Slido; these systems can easily be accessed with cell phones, tablets, and laptops.
Menti.com was used to introduce a lecture on “Gregory the Great (590)” for a Christian Heritage lecture. The students were asked to go to their phones, use their laptops or iPads to participate. After about a minute or two we surveyed the results, and they were then asked to pick the top two qualities! Gregory the Great exceeded their expectations!
…provide students opportunities to share ideas with others and gain new perspectives of the content. Small group or think-pair-share activities allow students to collectively think and discuss ideas in addition to work out solutions to problems.
Some digital tools to enhance student collaborative activities include use of Google Docs, Microsoft OneDrive, and Padlet. Also, student use of social media platforms including Twitter, Learning Management System Discussion and Chat features, Blogs, Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and Flipgrid allow students to extend collaborative efforts outside the classroom.
…can be accessed via OneDrive or Gmail accounts where students can contribute towards a study guide as in the sample below or towards a group project. Points can be awarded for participation which is clearly highlighted according to each student’s contribution. This creates a win-win situation and ensures that everyone is rewarded accordingly.
The example below is from a collaborative study guide for a Church History course:
The passage Colossians 1:15-20 is in the form what genre? When was it written? What was its meaning Genre: Hymn (Lecture: The Fall of Jerusalem)
Written: year 58-60 (not sure about this answer) Col 1 was written in the 50’s (while Paul was in Prison) Meaning: “Hymn to Christ as God” —>can be used to validate testimony
What were the 3 main standards for determining the canon or the books of the Bible?
- From the disciple of Christ
- From those influenced firsthand by a disciple of Christ
- Demonstrating the apostolic message about Christ
What early church heretic mentioned the earliest list of books that most closely represents the books of the Bible that we have today? What year? Marcion was the author this heresy in 144 pg 27
The following statement was made by whom and in what year: “Follow the Bishop as Jesus Christ followed the Father.”
- Bishop Ignatius; 112 AD
What was the Christian heresy that focused on a special knowledge and claimed that that the God of the OT and NT were totally different? Who was its leading proponent? Marcionism; Gnosticism focused on “special knowledge.” Marcion of Sinope at Rome, was a leading proponent in 144AD (pg. 30, Lecture 8/24)
As you consider the ideas shared above, note what they all have in common. Talking less – and getting students to engage more. Using the practices identified in this resource will support all learners in your classes.
Gasiewski, J., Eagan, M., Garcia, G., Hurtado, S., & Chang, M. (2012). From Gatekeeping to Engagement: A Multicontextual, Mixed Method Study of Student Academic Engagement in Introductory STEM Courses. Research in Higher Education,53(2), 229-261. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41349006
Ghosh, S., & Renna, F. (2009). Using Electronic Response Systems in Economics Classes. The Journal of Economic Education, 40(4), 354-365. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25766022
Handelsman, M., Briggs, W., Sullivan, N., & Towler, A. (2005). A Measure of College Student Course Engagement. The Journal of Educational Research, 98(3), 184-191. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27548076
Hourigan, K. (2013). Increasing Student Engagement in Large Classes: The ARC Model of Application, Response, and Collaboration. Teaching Sociology, 41(4), 353-359. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43187370
Hunter, J., & Caraway, H. (2014). Urban Youth Use Twitter to Transform Learning and Engagement. The English Journal,103(4), 76-82. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24484224