Student engagement can be defined as the combination of cognitive focus, emotional fuel and constructive learning behavior that fosters deeper learning and long-term retention. Without engagement, students may struggle to comprehend material, be reluctant to ask questions, and display negative behavior such as avoiding class activities, arriving late or handing in unfinished or incomplete work (Barkley & Major 2020).
Students can become engaged by making a commitment to learning, becoming actively involved in their studies and connecting their subject matter to real-life applications. Therefore, providing varied learning experiences encourages students to take control of their education as well as think critically about issues affecting them and others around them.
Recent years have witnessed an increased interest in student engagement among educators and researchers due to studies showing correlations between certain intellectual, emotional, behavioral, physical, and social factors and academic achievement during pivotal transitional periods such as middle and secondary school years. Some educators define student engagement as when students make a psychological investment in their learning: striving hard to grasp everything school offers them. Other researchers have highlighted the significance of developing strategies and teaching techniques which promote multiple forms of student engagement: making personal investments in schooling; hard-core effort for school; learning what school offers them.”
Cognitive engagement refers to an individual’s desire to comprehend the material being studied. It requires sustained focus and attention, which may be achieved using various instructional methods such as hands-on projects, visual aids or small group activities. When students believe they can achieve success in a course they become more motivated to study and learn and this ultimately improves academic performance and test scores.
Emotional engagement refers to an individual’s feelings toward a topic being studied, including their attitude toward instructors and willingness to provide feedback, participate in discussions and interact with classmates. Emotional engagement can also be affected by how teachers present information or the amount of autonomy given to students.
Engaging students is an ongoing journey, so teachers should pay careful attention to how they engage them. One effective strategy for teachers to do this is through asking open-ended questions that require students to think deeply about the subject matter, providing real life examples from personal experience, and encouraging connections between what is learned in class and daily life. When students themselves create classroom rules and policies themselves, it increases compliance as well as respect from fellow classmates.
Many students find it easier to approach challenging topics when discussing them in small groups, which a teacher can facilitate by creating a discussion forum on their class website where students can share their perspectives and ideas with one another through chat rooms or Facebook, and even participate in class projects which allow them to present them directly to peers.