Ask any teacher about the relationship between student engagement and learning, and they’ll likely confirm that higher levels of engagement lead to improved learning. However, the understanding of what constitutes engagement may not be as universally agreed upon.
For the purpose of this post, I want to discern between ‘Ritualistic Engagement’ and ‘Authentic Engagement.’ Ritualistic Engagement might also be thought of as ‘Institutional Engagement.” It refers to students ‘doing school.’ In other words, they are willing to do what is typically expected of them as a student. They go through the motions and compliantly do what is asked of them.
On the other end of the spectrum is the idea of ‘Authentic Engagement,’ which refers to students who are seriously emotionally and intellectually engaged in their learning. It’s much deeper than just going through the motions. This obviously better describes the desired state of engagement for students.
In no particular order, three of the most powerful factors for improving student engagement include:
1. Strong, Healthy Teacher/Student Relationships
2. A Learning Climate Conducive to Learning
3. High Expectations from Teachers.
Schools spend a lot of time, money and energy improving the pedagogical practices and content knowledge of their staff. These continue to be important. However, the culture and systemic practices of a system are often overlooked as powerful levers for improving student results.