Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Improving Student Engagement


The following post comes to us from a friend and guest blogger, Dave Black. See more from him on one of our favorite other blogs. 

We all have experienced those times when nothing we do seems to engage our students in learning. Our entertaining presentations do not spark interest, nor does video content, discussion, or seemingly any other technique. What should one do at this point to light a spark?

Some relatively new research outlined in the March 2013 volume entitled Stratosphere: Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge provides some interesting insights in how we might better engage students in learning. This research, referenced from multiple sources, led to the following findings:

  • ·         Creating short exercises that focus on the feelings and attitudes of students can lead to improved student achievement and the closing of academic gaps. The opportunity to express subjective experiences results in a more personalized and engaged approach to learning since our students are craving the chance to have a meaningful voice in discourse and in the sharing of ideas.
  • ·         Another discovery is that, with most students, 20 minutes of intentional time in working with a student is often enough to bring about a measurable change in a student’s attitude and behavior in the classroom. Subconsciously, learners desire to be honored and noticed. The 20-minute time frame seems to be the tipping point for significant improvement in student engagement.
  • ·         A third strategy involves an investment of time over a period of days. Try opening a conversation with a student about a topic of THEIR interest for two minutes a day over ten days. This approach will almost always yield a behavior and learning engagement improvement.

These strategies seem so simple. Yet the challenge for us as educators is to be intentional about their use in the classroom. Additionally, these approaches open doors for us to have surprising faith conversations with our students, providing opportunities to share Jesus Christ with them in more tangible and applicable ways.

Feel like you have been tuned out? Then intentionally apply one or more of these approaches to better connect your students with classroom activities. Honor them by engaging them in research-tested ways to bring about positive change in their motivation to learn. Try it and see what you can learn.

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