Hi everyone! Today, I wanted to take a break from the normal flow of our most recent posts about high school prep to give you some tips on student engagement. With so many parents flocking to homeschooling recently, its good to know if the teaching style or curriculum you chose is actually helping your child learn. I know, you’re probably thinking, all curricula can help children learn, right? Actually, every child learns differently, and a one-size-fits-all approach is not good. That’s why we take esteem in helping parents understand why.
What is student engagement?
Student engagement is a term used to describe an educational experience that both stimulates and encourages students to learn more and build off of their previous knowledge. When a student is engaged, they will exhibit some of the following behaviors.
- Has excitement in and around school
- Discovers their own groove for studying and learning
- Has interests and talks about school in a positive way
- Is encouraged to keep going
- Loves mentioning school projects and remembers homework
- Retains information learned for later application in an array of situations
There are other behaviors that could indicate a level of engagement, but these mentioned above are the highlights. Students who are engaged have high self-efficacy and can make decisions based on their level of confidence and knowledge obtained. They see the value of school and understand how important it is to really think and understand the content.
How do students get engaged?
The interesting thing about students with high self-efficacy is that they learned it from somewhere. Confidence in school and in academic performance is a learned behavior that is stimulated by engaging learning experiences. Students learn to be engaged and have confidence is school when the educational journey they are taking shows them how to
- study on their own,
- ask for help when needed,
- think critically about the information obtained,
- find a learning pace that works for them,
- find creative ways to express what they understand and remember it, and
- learn for pleasure or importance of content and not due solely to grades and quizzes.
Why is student engagement important?
The last bullet point listed in the previous section may seem odd to you. Especially since most parents would want students to learn in order to make good grades and pass their exams. However, this mindset places students at a disadvantage because they are only studying hard enough to remember the information needed to pass an exam and not to retain it in longevity for later use. It disconnects students from real-world experiences where things in life cannot be summed up as a multiple choice question.
The question we need to ask ourselves is: “what is the goal of educating my students?” Is it to have them practice rote rehearsal (repetitive processing of information with no required critical thinking and minimal engagement)? Is it to keep my students’ grades up? Is it to prepare them for life and help them engage in meaningful conversations and academic content. If you agreed with the latter, you are correct. The goal of education should be to prepare students to be meaningful members of society who understand how to think and reason.
How to change my curriculum to make it more engaging?
In reality, only so much can be done to create an engaging learning environment for students. The main aspect of keeping students engaged is a learning process that shows them how to gain self-efficacy and think critically about information presented. Keep in mind a simple fact.
Students are taught to dislike things based on the results that they get.
If your student dislikes reading, you probably have a non-stimulating curriculum that is based around reading. If they dislike math, they probably are frustrated because of the current curriculum’s way of explaining the topic. Find a curriculum that fits their groove and you will have a more stimulated and excited learner. AKA an engaged learner with high self-efficacy.