Student Engagement: A Hot Topic

It seems everywhere you look, student engagement is a hot topic.  Engaging students in learning in the 21st century is very different from the way we engaged students in the past.  We know that many students are “cooperating” and “complying” in our classrooms, and some are downright angry about how disengaged they are.

If you are interested in exploring the topic of Student Engagement, I would like to direct you to a wiki I created called “Let’s Get Engaged.”  On that wiki, I have accumulated a considerable amount of resources on topics relating to student engagement, originally based on a multi-session workshop series.

On the page called “What is student engagement?,” I include a variety of resources in multimedia on the topic.  One of my “go-to” resources on the topic is the Schlechty Center.  You may know Phil Schlechty from his popular book, Working on the Work.  Schlechty describes several levels of engagement:

  • engagement
  • strategic compliance
  • ritual compliance
  • retreatism
  • rebellion

For a pdf description of the levels of engagement, click here.

I have created a tool I call the “Engage-O-Meter” for teachers to use when reflecting on activities they plan for their students.  No one activity is likely to meet all of the qualities of engagement.  When teachers try out a new activity with a class that students do not seem to engage in, the Engage-O-Meter can give some direction to the teacher as to how the activity might be re-engineered to increase student engagement.  Here is that tool:

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An important point of discussion is the difference between engagement and entertainment.  Do I have to wear a clown nose and juggle to get my students to engage?  Not at all.  Quite simply put, entertainment is what the teacher is doing, engagement is what the students are doing.  Engaging with each other, engaging with the content, engaging in discussions with the teacher.  How do your lessons measure up on the “Engage-O-Meter?”

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