Student engagement is an holistic concept combining participation, involvement affiliation and quality of learning. It relates to the full range of experiences and practices of being a student and of learning in a university. It is a description of the behaviour toward, relationship with, and commitment to learning. Engagement is supported by a sense of belonging as fostered by such things as learning and teaching, co-curricula and extra-curricular activities, and the blurring of the boundary between formal and informal student life.
Ten pedagogic practices to support engagement:
1. Collaborative and active learning, assignments and projects
Collaborative learning encourages formal and informal learning networks. These can be supported both by face-to-face activities and by online activities.
2. Choice and negotiation in assessment
Students need to have a clear vision of what is expected of them and be involved in understanding how they will demonstrate their progress. Assessment practices should be linked with regular and formative feedback and practices that promote self-reflection on learning.
3. First year experiences that ease and enable effective transition
Where possible staff responsible for first year students should be attuned to their cognitive and emotional needs as they make the transition from school or work into the university. Opportunities for working in smaller groups should be provided for these students.
4. Common and shared experiences that foster belonging
Social and academic activities that bring students into sustained contact and discussion with other students, senior students, academic and general staff.
5. The promotion of learning communities and identifiable cohorts
Students working closely together and with staff so that a sense of identity, either around subject, place or group is established.
6. Undergraduate research and experiential learning
Attention to the ‘research-teaching nexus’, involvement with the practice of the discipline, including work integrated learning projects.
7. Good teaching, including consistency, organisation and the promotion of common values
Good teaching involves both detailed, consistent and strategic program design and the building of policy around the student experience, not just instruction and assessment. Collegial approaches to curriculum design need to be advocated and promoted including peer review and collaboration.
8. Learning with and about diversity
Recognition of the range of students and student needs including the variety and range of learning styles and preferences. Providing safe opportunities for students to learn from and understand difference.
9. Community and service learning
Learning beyond the classroom in or on authentic setting and tasks and promoting the idea of the university in the community; giving back to the community.
10. Culminating projects, expositions and capstones
Mobilising what students have learnt into an integrative and synthesised whole.
Excerpt from Macquire University’s Working Construct of Student Engagement