Welcome to the new era of student engagement
Author: Matthew Clarke – PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) Co-ordinator, University of Central Lancashire
The ways in which tutors can engage students in their learning, are changing.
Chris Headleand (2021) defines student engagement as ‘involving students in learning’. However, to involve all students in their learning, tutors have had to adopt more current practices. Regardless of who you ask, all tutors will have different ways of engaging their students.
A huge shift in student engagement came during 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic – the impact of which is still being felt by students today
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I was in the second year of my undergraduate degree at the University of Central Lancashire. Overnight, we were all required to transition to completing the remainder of our course online. During this time, my engagement levels dropped significantly due to a whole host of reasons. I think this was because of how isolated I felt from my course, tutors and fellow students.
As I entered my final year, I knew that it was going to be entirely online, so I had time to prepare, and so did the tutors. The way they utilised technology was remarkable. In every lesson, there were numerous activities that allowed us to interact with our fellow learners. It felt as though we were back in the classroom. This helped feed into studies which show that classroom activities should be changed every ‘7 to 10 minutes, in order to keep students’ attention’ (Roberto, 2021).
From memory, tutors utilised the following technologies and techniques:
- Microsoft PowerPoint, Sway and OneNote
- Tutors used PowerPoint, Sway and OneNote as a way to vary their lessons, which in turn changed how students engaged with the course content.
- Vevox was utilised so that students were able to anonymously provide input on a particular topic.
- Who isn’t a fan of a good old Kahoot? Kahoot was simply used to quiz the students about certain topics, but this also generated a sense of competition amongst peers.
- Where appropriate, tutors used YouTube videos to showcase how the course theory related to real-world examples.
- Online surveys
- These gave the students an opportunity to see how an organisation might carry out tasks such as market research.
- Feedback forms
- As an entire academic year had never taken place completely online before, students were asked to provide feedback at regular intervals – addressing whether anything further could be provided to make the experience even better. By doing this, it helped create a sense of involvement from all students, regardless of their learning background.
One approach that I believe could be utilised more by tutors to further engage their students, is the creation of short videos. As an example, TikTok is extremely popular with people right across the world, and encompasses music videos, dancing, comedy shorts etc. (Edwards, 2021).
For example, tutors could create their own short videos to explain a particular part of an assignment that their students might be struggling with. This can make learning a lot more fun for the students. The videos could not only keep students engaged with the course, but also entertained. Tutors may even want to take part in one of the latest trends, like the ‘tortilla wrap challenge’.
Tutors must continue to adapt their engagement practices to ensure they get the best out of their students, and that they reach their full potential academically.
Edwards, L. (2021). How Can TikTok Be Used in the classroom? [online] Available at: https://www.techlearning.com/how-to/how-can-tiktok-be-used-in-the-classroom [Accessed 3 Sep. 2022]
Headleand, C. (2021). What Does ‘student Engagement’ Mean to you? and you? and you? [online] Available at: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/what-does-student-engagement-mean-you-and-you-and-you [Accessed 3 Sep. 2022]
Roberto, M. (2021). Engaging Students on the First Day and Every Day. [online] Available at: https://hbsp.harvard.edu/inspiring-minds/engaging-students-on-the-first-day-and-every-day [Accessed 3 Sep. 2022]