What is Classroom Engagement?
Classroom engagement is another way to describe the first “E” in the 5 E’s cycle of learning: Engage. In this facet of education, you need to capture the minds of your students in order to prepare them for information on a given topic. In the video below, John Spencer provides a synopsis of Phillip Schlechty’s 5 Levels of Engagement. The highest level — engagement itself — is rife with intrinsic motivation among the students. As I’ve stated in a previous blog post, fostering intrinsic motivation is one of the best ways to improve a student’s learning experience. There are countless ways to keep your students engaged in your classroom and, further along, I’ll share some that don’t break the bank.
Why is Classroom Engagement Important?
As previously stated, classroom engagement essentially is the “warming up” of students to a topic you are about to teach. Educational researcher Phillip Schlechty said it best, “Engagement is active. It requires the students to be attentive as well as in attendance; it requires the students to be committed to the task and find some inherent value in what he or she is being asked to do. The engaged student not only does the task assigned but also does the task with enthusiasm and diligence.” Furthermore, if you are practicing classroom engagement, you’ll often times have a better understanding of the level of previous knowledge your students are bringing to a lesson.
Give Students A Voice
It is no surprise that students are more engaged if they have a voice in the educational process. By giving students a voice, you can allow them to have a guiding hand in the lesson. You’ll be surprised at some of the wonderful ideas students have, and with a platform to stand on, you’ll see their curiosities flourish.
Brain Busters, Brain Teasers, Ice Breakers — whatever you wish to call them, they’re great tools for classroom engagement! This short structured time at the beginning of a class can serve as a kickstart for the minds of students. These can also serve as great practice for communication and cooperation among students. It may seem counterintuitive to give up some of your “teaching time” but you will undoubtedly thank yourself after you see how much more engaged your students are after they have a chance to warm up.
Connect Learning To The Real World
Similar to providing students with a voice, connecting learning to the real world can allow students to view the concept through their own lens. This makes content feel more personal, leading students to lean into the learning process. This strategy can even be combined with giving students a voice leading to a deeper connection between student and concept. Furthermore, connecting science topics to the real world is not only easy and valuable, but also dispels the dreaded question: “When are we gonna use this in real life?”
Pay a Little
You can often find countless educational tools just by keeping your eye out and slowly building a collection. Garage sales, Goodwill, and other second hand purchasing options can harbor some of the most unique items — perfect for keeping your class engaged. The process of bargain hunting can even be connected to the real world through the ever present topics of environmental sustainability and polution.
Classroom engagement is one of the most important characteristics of a good classroom. Students will be more invested and show higher levels of comprehension if they are engaged with your lesson. In the end, it doesn’t take stacks of cash to keep your students engaged. You can often times further classroom engagement by making learning personal and infusing a bit of fun into your day. Be on the lookout for brain busters and bargain bins.
Miami University || Class of 2023
College of Education Health and Society || Integrated Science Education Major
Secretary || NSTA, Miami University Chapter