How Do You Define Student Engagement?
UNDERSTANDING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
The first thing that strikes our mind when we think of engagement is the “ring”. Commitment is one of the significant attributes of engagement. Now, let us try using the words ‘student’ and ‘engagement’ together. It suggests a notion about a student getting engaged, but to whom? Student denotes someone who is studying.
By bringing ‘studying’ and ‘commitment’ together, we can associate the students’ commitment to studying or learning as ‘student engagement’.
A student gets enrolled in an educational institution to attain an appropriate level of comprehension of a subject or skill under the guidance of a teacher. This is definitely not as simple as it sounds to be. The transference of knowledge will be effective only when the target (student) is receptive to the source (teacher). Taking a cue from the above analysis, ‘student engagement’ is the students’ willingness, enthusiasm, positive attitude, motivation, attention, curiosity and passion to what they are being taught for cognitive development.
Now, let us try to figure out various factors involved in student engagement:
1. Teacher: is the core of student engagement. The teacher’s way of teaching, talking, praising, supporting ability and receptivity are the motivating factors for students to become involved in the learning process. The students make it a point to be regular to the class of a teacher who inspires and pays attention to get benefited from the class with a target of doing well.They work harder to be in the good books of the teacher and be able to exceed the academic expectations.
2. The environment of the institution: This would primarily include the infrastructure, facilities, extracurricular activities, educational outings, safety measures, awards and recognition. Students who feel well connected to the place of study have a high probability of being engaged. They will attend the classes regularly paving the way for creating interest and inclination towards learning.
3. The mindset of a student: A student’s physical and mental well being is of utmost importance. Any health issues or stress in their personal life, for example, lousy family conditions or relationships which create obstacles in students’ involvement in learning should be addressed sensitively. Students are mentally strained because of the health issues and chaotic family life, and this might even give rise to other behavioural problems like Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD] which hamper student engagement.
4. Peer relationship: Positive peer relationship is essential for a competitive study environment. It helps the students by fostering confidence and positive self-image which boosts up their aspirations of academic achievement. For example, peers who are dedicated will influence others to be the same. Goal-Oriented peers will inspire others to do well. On the other hand, negative peer relationship lowers morale and have an adverse impact on the student’s interest in the class. For example, peers who skip classes tend to influence others to do the same. Those indulging in bullying will instigate others.
5. Availability of learning resources: Learning resources are of great significance to the students. These comprise of comprehensive reference books, technological help, physical manipulatives, learning-based activities etc. These sources complement the urge to delve deep into the subject. An easy to understand and comprehend study material and the illustrations cited in them are a critical factor in attracting students’ attention. For abstract concepts, animated videos and physical manipulative are an ideal teaching aid.
6. Parental support: It is quite natural for a student to get demotivated or disinterested in the course of learning. At those times, parents play an essential role in tracing the root cause and counselling their wards to help them stay positive. Parents can coordinate with teachers by giving them specific inputs which will help teachers to take corrective measures, if any, with a common goal of high student engagement.
To conclude, the term ‘student engagement’ refers to the students’ voluntary commitment and motivation arising out of keenness to reap the benefits of learning wholeheartedly. Highly engaged students put in their heart and soul, not just to score well but also to appreciate the essence of what they have learnt by implementing the learning practically. It is the responsibility of the teachers and the institution together to provide the right set of conditions to promote student engagement. Having said that, parents can play a perfect role in bridging gaps by communicating about any issues from a student’s perspective which needs to be addressed by the teacher/institution.
Students love to learn new things provided they are being taught effectively.The practical manner would typically mean to emphasize the essence of what is being taught, include practical examples and activities to ensure that learning outcomes are achieved. The more they find the subject relevant to their lives ,the more involved they will be in learning it.