What Does Student “Engagement” Look Like in The Classroom?

What Does Student “Engagement” Look Like in The Classroom?
By Ahmad Amirali

As the summer break is almost over, I am assuming all the teachers around the world must be getting ready to become part of the new batch of awesomeness which will be going to commences soon. As a teacher, we all know that the most important thing for every teacher, for which he/she work really hard throughout the academic year, is how well their students will be going to engage with their taught lessons? What strategies they will use in their lesson plans to make their students engage and well participated in the classroom? However, today, while reviewing my last year lesson plans, a thought struck my mind that ‘does my students engaged with the lesson which I taught last year to them? What does “engagement with the lesson” really meant and how does it look like in the classroom?

The GER (Glossary of Education Reform) refer to student engagement as ‘the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism and passion’ that students normally showed when they’ve been in the learning state.  According to GER, there are three types of engagements which students normally experienced.

  • Emotional engagement refers to students’ feelings about their teacher, classroom, and general school experience, as well as their sense of belonging.
  • Behavioural engagement includes how attentive, and active students are in the classroom and with a school, in general, e.g. their involvement in any extracurricular activities.
  • Cognitive engagement refers to how naturally motivated and participated students are in the learning process and how much they take ownership of it.

A teacher normally finds out his/her student is behavioural or mentally engage with the session when they observe their physical participation or from their gestures (smiling, facial expressions like confused or motivated or eager to answer). Generally, students who aren’t behaviourally or mentally engaged teachers and parents consider such children as non-participative or disengaged. However, I believe, being silent during the classroom activities can be considered as non-participative, but not disengaged.

Majority of teachers, pick-up on the audience cues as they direct-teach and can tell if a student is not interested or not engaged. Most teachers act on what they observe and adjust their lesson plan to try to engage all of their students by including interactive and collaborative activities in their sessions. However, not all students have the same abilities and skills to coup with the taught content. For example, if I planned my lesson plan for the topic crusades and I am taking 3 activities that include visual, kinaesthetic and creative expressions. Not necessary, all students will be managed to participate in all three activities; there might be a chance where some students would not participate in any activities at all. Maybe they’re good at writing skills and wants to write poetry or a piece of essay to present their learning.

Similarly, some students are good speakers or listeners they might not engage with the set of activities which we brought for them, but they remember every lesson either through active notes keeping or simply memorising. And these are the students who always participate when nobody has the answer to the question or problem. Engagement is not the ‘Stand-Alone’ process. Instead, it’s a mixture of emotion, behaviour and cognition. A student can be passive in behavioural engagement but can be engaged mentally.

Remember, the ultimate student engagement is to put the learner in charge of learning. Create a rich learning environment and a motivation to learn, and the students do all the hard work of learning, while the teacher merely facilitates. It seems so easy but not that easy as it sounds 😛

So good luck for the upcoming awesomeness that awaits at the end of summer break for all the awesome teachers. 😊

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