Student engagement is a multi-faceted construct. It is better understood as a constructive relationship shared among the students, staff and the institution per se. The construct student engagement refers to “how involved or interested students are in their learning and how connected they are to their classes, their institutions, and each other” (Axelson and Flick, 2010).
It simply means to keep the students’ interactions more meaningful throughout the facilitated learning environment. Recognizing the differences among the students, varying issues from over expectations to under expectations are the challenges faced by Institutions. Paying much-needed heed to a topic that requires attention, it is highly essential to adopt a formative approach, targeting the needs of students. To address the issues in hand ABC Model (Attitude, Behavioral and Cognitive) of engagement is adopted, to make sure that more holistic approach is embraced and the students’ overall wellbeing is retained and enhanced throughout their academic life. ABC model works with a notion that the technical knowledge and the non-technical knowledge together can help students to engage and get ready for the industry. Research (Kuh, 2001) NSSE (National survey of student engagement) has identified five benchmarks of an engaged campus:
(a) Student interactions with faculty,
(b) Academic challenge
(c) Supportive campus environment,
(d) Enriching educational experiences, and
(e) Active and collaborative learning.
Understanding its relevance, IILM has continually worked on strengthening student Engagement through Behavioural Engagement, Emotional Engagement and Cognitive Engagement.
The present times have thrown upon us the challenge to constructively keep our students engaged, who are physically at distance and only connected through virtual platforms, through technology. But we at IILM have ensured that the spirit of Learning through engagement never gets dampened. Through a series of well planned, outcome-oriented, student-driven activities, we have kept the student engagement live and kicking. Whether it is activities like Buddy Connect, team Video Making, storytelling or for that matter Art therapy workshop, students have always got to experience being on the campus despite being away from it. Activities such as the first brush with making Video CVs, the curtain-raiser to Entrepreneurship, Social Media hygiene, have given them learning along with the opportunity to work with their seniors and peers.
While developing the framework for the student Engagement in the present times the approaches that are being adopted are –
- Enhance students’ self-belief — Students engage when they act as their own learning agents working to achieve goals that are meaningful to them. This means that what students believe about themselves as learners is very important. They must believe they can learn, including that they can overcome and learn from failure. Giving students some control over learning processes helps develop this confidence and commitment to learning. All our activities have been completely student-driven. Right from setting goals to drafting the timelines, the onus has been on the students, individually and as a team.
- Enable students to work autonomously, enjoy learning relationships with others, and feel they are competent to achieve their own objectives — “When institutions provide opportunities for students to learn both autonomously and with others, and to develop their sense of competence, students are more likely to be motivated, to engage and succeed.” Not unrelated to the first recommendation, the focus is to be on cultivating intrinsic drive, which fosters the self-determination that leads to engagement. We have deliberately put students from different schools and different programs and kept the teams heterogeneous.
- Recognize that teaching and teachers are central to engagement — Much research places teachers at the heart of engagement. For example, one study found that “if the teacher is perceived to be approachable, well prepared, and sensitive to student needs, students are committed to working harder, get more out of the session, and are more willing to express their opinion.” No matter how self-driven and motivated the students are, they always have the assurance that they have faculty support always there, just a call away. For all they need is just some reassurance and some confidence building.
- Create learning that is active, collaborative, and fosters learning relationships — “Findings acknowledge that active learning in groups, peer relationships, and social skills are important in engaging learners. The bond that develops among students, while executing the team activities and complementing one another, is the most engaging aspect of the entire program.
- Create educational experiences for students that are challenging and enriching and that extend their academic abilities — Easy learning activities and assignments are not as effective at engaging students as activities and assignments that challenge them. When students are reflecting, questioning, conjecturing, evaluating, and making connections between ideas, they are engaged. “Teachers need to create rich educational experiences that challenge students’ ideas and stretch them as far as they can go.” With each engagement activity, student learning levels are raised, to become more challenging and thereby, calling for a higher level of effort and involvement.
- Ensure that institutional cultures are welcoming to students from diverse backgrounds — to become engaged, we believe students must feel they are accepted and affirmed. They must feel they belong to an institution. Heterogeneity in teams equips them to learn and appreciate diversity and at the same time gel into the institutional culture.
- Adaptive to changing student expectations — in the current scenario of the changing face of learning and expectations, as an institution, we have done a lot of discussion and deliberation on how to promote student engagement.
- Enable students to become active citizens — We understand that the need of the hour is a democratic-critical conception of engagement that goes beyond strategies, techniques, behaviours, a conception in which engagement is participatory, dialogic and leads not only to academic achievement but to success as an active citizen. The subjects that were picked by students to make videos in teams were reflective of their sensitivity towards the society, environment and the world we live in.
- Enable students to develop their social and cultural capital — this kind of capital derives from a sense of belonging, from active relationships with others, and from knowing how things work around the institution. It essentially focuses upon the need to be successful not only in the classroom but beyond it as well.
The idea is to keep it simple and bring the engaged learning forward. The way we engage today lays the foundation of the society that we plan for the future because the students today need to be socially responsible citizens of tomorrow. A positive engagement sets the framework of a society that takes pride in itself and its ability to take all challenges, seen and unforeseen in the true spirit and zeal.
Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on student engagement at IILM.