5 Foundations for Fostering Student Engagement
5 Foundations for Fostering Student Engagement
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, March 06, 2019 by Andilynn Feddeler

One of the toughest challenges for educators is not only capturing, but also keeping the attention of their students throughout an entire lesson. Fun activities or new units can spark curiosity, but some students find it hard to continue being interested in a subject, especially if they are being lectured at and told to take notes. This doesn’t have to be the case—there are plenty of everyday strategies teachers can implement to boost student engagement. Of course, every classroom, student, and teacher is different, so trying out a few different methods may be the best way to find ones that stick!

  • Collaboration. Many teachers already use some sort of group work in their classrooms, in which peers can learn from and help each other while completing an activity. But for this method to be truly effective, students must be able to see the value in working as a team, as well as what their own skills and knowledge bring to the table. When students have a good understanding of their responsibilities, it’s easier for them to be creative and explore the topic at hand.

  • Application. A lot of students have understandable concerns about when and where they are going to use certain material they learn in school. Although there are some topics they may never revisit after graduation, it’s important to help them see how everything ties in to their potential careers and personal lives.

  • Feedback. Developing positive relationships with students enables them to feel supported in their schoolwork, even when they struggle. It’s hard to find time to meet with each and every student, but when a teacher establishes that he or she has an open door, it can ease student anxiety and create a more open, nurturing classroom environment where kids actually want to participate.

  • Discussion. In-class discussions have the potential to engage students in open conversation, free of pressure. However, this isn’t always the reality—graded discussions create a sense of urgency and competition, whereas ungraded ones can sometimes fall into the hands of a couple eager students while the rest of the class sits back. There are some simple, fun ways to make class discussions more inviting (without barring meaningful conversation), but it may take some experimenting to see what really speaks to students.

  • Motivation. Students won’t learn if they don’t want to. Engaging students is hard work, but some of it depends on whether they are willing to put in effort or not. Fostering a drive for challenge, success, and knowledge through independent thought, relevant problem-based learning, and other motivational strategies can build up classroom confidence and comprehension.