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Suppose you’re wondering how to enthuse your students and improve their grades.

In that case, this article provides a brief overview of the importance of classroom engagement and 15 student engagement strategies to try today.

According to an extensive and respected research project conducted several years ago, people who feel engaged in a task or project are driven by four goals, each of which speaks to a specific human need. These include:

  • Curiosity (which feeds the need for understanding things about the world)
  • Success (which feeds the need for attaining mastery over our lives)
  • Relationships (which feeds the need for relating to others)
  • Originality (which feeds the desire for self-expression)

While these goals may seem relatively straightforward, encouraging students to work towards these goals and develop a love of learning is much easier said than done. In the past, school teachers were expected to provide large amounts of information to students through lectures or seminars. There was little interaction between students and the teacher, and students who demonstrated high engagement levels tended to be those with an impressive attention span, ability to retain information, and intrinsic love of learning. In other words, only one or two students per classroom.

Fortunately, the tides have been changing for a long time, and educators are now expected to be proactive in holding students’ attention and encouraging them to engage with a subject. Boosting engagement in this way can help to create more motivated students and, by extension, enhance progress and achievement.

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Integrating student engagement strategies in the classroom

Engagement-oriented educators ensure that their students are involved in their learning process and, occasionally, their course syllabus. While lectures and rote learning still have some place in the classroom, they should be combined with class participation, multimedia learning materials, and technology. Teachers must remember that engaging students can take time and, inevitably, a considerable effort. If you’re new to actively engaging students, we’ve put together 15 strategies below to get you started. After a few weeks or months of trying out these new techniques, you can start assessing their success and adjust your techniques accordingly. Remember that some of the best teachers work using trial and error. If you don’t get it right the first time, try again!

Student engagement strategies to try today

1. Participatory teaching

Participatory teaching puts students at the center of a teacher’s pedagogical practice, accounting for their different backgrounds, skill sets, and learning styles. The goal of participatory teaching is to encourage self-reflection and self-regulation. For example, it may involve asking students to write down their thoughts about how effectively they have achieved the objectives of a certain course module. You can then adapt your teaching methods and means of assessment accordingly.

2. Active learning

Active learning is anything that breaks away from the passive style of learning that involves dry information absorption. It could include, for example, group problem-solving or class debates. Check out this helpful article for more inspiration.

3. Flip the lesson-homework relationship

Instead of asking students to review and work on information addressed in class, ask them to study the subject matter beforehand. Classroom time can then be spent discussing the topic.

4. Encourage a lot of writing

Consistent writing is a great way to hone students’ written work and boost their grades. Please encourage them to reflect on what they have learned in writing after every lesson. The piece does not have to be extensive but could take the form of a short journal entry or mini-essay.

5. Make the most of technology

Hooking students up with online learning materials is a great way to ensure they stay engaged outside the classroom. Search for online quizzes and interactive games that are fun and informative.

6. Ensure that learning material is relevant to the lives of students

Students tend to switch off if learning material is irrelevant to their everyday lives and experiences. This way, using real-world examples while teaching is a good idea. If there are no obvious links to students’ lives, don’t hesitate to get creative!

7. Set expectations early on

Before you start teaching a course, ask students what they hope to gain from it and what they expect from you as an educator. This will help to establish a relationship of mutual respect and will help guide you when it comes to meeting student expectations. Ultimately, a strong relationship like this will help to develop feelings of engagement.

8. Try to combine disciplines

Rather than splitting subjects up into standalone disciplines, try blurring the boundaries. This will help students link ideas together and understand how certain subjects apply to real-world situations. It may also help engage students who may not be particularly fond of math or biology.

9. Learning together

Split students into small groups and ask them to complete certain tasks, discuss relevant topics, or conduct science experiments. This kind of group learning is great for building strong student relationships and engaging students who find it difficult to concentrate on dry textbooks.

10. Assess students often

Testing frequently is a good way of ensuring that students absorb course material effectively. This is because infrequent testing encourages students to cram in all of the information in the days before a big test, a risky and often ineffective strategy.

11. Keep track of attendance

Good attendance is vital to classroom success, so make sure your students are coming to class regularly.

12. Tell your own stories

Telling your own personal (but appropriate!) stories relevant to the classroom topic will pique students’ interest and keep them engaged.

13. Use visual prompts

Keep visual learners happy and engaged by using maps, pictures, and videos in your lesson plans.

14. Play games

Come up with a few fun games relevant to your topic to demonstrate that learning can be fun. Just make sure to play games towards the end of the lesson to ensure that the learning material has been thoroughly absorbed.

15. Encourage independent learning

Bright students should be encouraged to undertake their learning to stay engaged at school. This is particularly important for students who learn very quickly and may get bored or restless if they feel unchallenged.