Ways To Promote Student Engagement In The Classroom: Do you know that the attention span of the average human is eight seconds? This is one second less than that of the goldfish. And while this might sound like a simple statistic, it becomes disconcerting when you are tasked with keeping a class full of students engaged.
Student engagement is a key factor in enhancing learning outcomes and fostering academic success. High student engagement levels will improve learning and make both instructors and students feel eager to participate in class.
However, many teachers struggle with finding effective ways to motivate and involve their students in the classroom. In this blog post, we will look at some ways to promote student engagement in your classroom.
What is student engagement?
Student engagement refers to the level of curiosity, attention, interest, and passion that students show when they are being taught. Put simply, it is how active and interested your students are during a lesson. Student engagement encompasses the emotional, behavioural, and mental aspects of student participation and involvement in the learning process. It is closely linked to motivation.
Several factors affect student engagement and not all students will show the same level of engagement, Studies show that as students move through classes, their motivation and engagement will reduce.
However, in the end, it is up to the teacher to ensure that each student gets the best from every lesson.
Why is student engagement important?
Promoting student engagement benefits everyone. The dream of every teacher is to have a classroom filled with students who are curious and willing to participate deeply in the learning process. And this is great, for various reasons:
A. Higher academic achievement and performance
B. Greater retention and completion rates
C. Improved critical thinking and problem-solving skills
D. Enhanced creativity and innovation
E. Increased self-efficacy and confidence
F. Reduced boredom and disaffection
G. Lower dropout and absenteeism rates
H. Better social and emotional skills
How to promote student engagement in the classroom: 9 Ways
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to promoting student engagement in the classroom. Human interaction is complex, so what might work for one teacher might not be a good fit for another.
However, some of the general principles and strategies that teachers can use are:
1. Establish clear learning objectives and expectations: Teachers should communicate the purpose and goals of each lesson and activity, as well as the criteria for success and assessment. This can help students understand what they are expected to learn and do, and how they will be evaluated.
The best way to keep the class engaged is to make the lesson more than just grades. How can the narrative be applied to the lives of the students?
2. Remove Barriers: A great way to keep students engaged is to make each lesson easy to understand. Your topic might be interesting but if the material is difficult to grasp, or the models are too complex, your students will become overwhelmed.
Once students are overwhelmed, they won’t be able to engage with the content. Make your lessons simple and create materials that are easy to understand. Start easy and gradually make it more challenging. Create opportunities for small successes and celebrate these successes, so your students will look forward to the next lesson.
3. Provide meaningful and relevant content: As a teacher, you must understand the needs and abilities of your students. Get to know your students, and find out what interests and motivates them.
Armed with this information, select and design content that is aligned with the students’ needs, interests, backgrounds, and aspirations. This can help students see the value and relevance of what they are learning, and how it connects to their lives and future goals.
4. Use active and interactive methods: Teachers should use a variety of instructional methods that engage students in active learning, such as discussions, debates, simulations, games, experiments, projects, case studies, etc.
These methods can stimulate students’ curiosity, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.
5. Incorporate student voice and choice: In most classrooms, students are forced to sit passively while their teacher talks to them. While this makes for a quiet class, it is a boring way to learn and one of the fastest ways to make your students lose interest.
Your students are the most important part of your class. They should have some degree of autonomy and ownership over their learning process, such as allowing them to choose topics, formats, partners, resources, etc. Let them share their thoughts and opinions with you, and take each contribution seriously. This can increase students’ motivation, interest, and responsibility for their learning.
6. Provide feedback and recognition: Students want to know if they are making progress. It gives them a sense of direction and tells them where they stand. It helps them stay engaged.
Teachers should provide timely, specific, constructive, and positive feedback to students on their progress and performance. This can help students monitor their learning, identify their strengths and areas for improvement, and celebrate their achievements.
Do not give fake compliments or half-hearted feedback. Students can smell these from a mile away and it is the fastest way to make them lose interest. Be specific about your feedback. Tell them what exactly they did well or what they need to do better.
7. Create a supportive and inclusive environment: Teachers should create a classroom culture that fosters respect, trust, belongingness, safety, and diversity. This can help students feel valued, accepted, supported, and comfortable to express themselves and participate in classroom activities.
A supportive and inclusive environment also makes it easier for students to learn from each other. Encourage them to share their ideas and create activities that foster collaboration.
8. Create opportunities for hands-on learning: A student will be more engaged if they can complete a task on their own for a longer period as opposed to watching or listening to a teacher complete it.
If I wanted to teach you how to bake a cake, watching me bake would be a good place to start. However, if I don’t hand you a mixing bowl soon enough, you will lose interest.
In addition to promoting engagement, hands-on learning tasks promote critical thinking. Of course, formal learning has its importance but they are best used as a way to foster hands-on activity.
9. Create an Organized Learning Space: A disorganised classroom is one of the fastest ways to lose the interest of your students. It takes away from the time you should spend teaching and it makes the whole learning process exhausting.
An organised classroom will put you and your students at ease and makes for a more productive day. Because you can easily recall where everything you need is, you can spend more time teaching. The lack of downtime will ensure the students stay focused and engaged throughout the lesson.
You can’t force Student engagements. You can try all the gimmicks in the book, but eventually, your students will get bored of them too. The best way to ensure your students are constantly engaged is to get to know them at the basic level. Find what makes them tick, and create a classroom that piques their interest and motivates them to learn.
The tips in this guide are a good place to start. However, do not forget that no two classrooms are the same. Feel free to experiment until you find what works for you.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.