September 22, 2020

What Is Student Engagement?

GoGuardian Team
A student looks happily at a laptop screen

Student engagement refers to the active participation of students in various activities that lead to quality learning. According to the Glossary of Education Reform, student engagement may refer to the degree of attention, interest, passion, curiosity, and optimism displayed by students during learning. Studies reveal that students possess behavioral involvement when they are engaged in learning. Thus, when students feel motivated, they progress in their academics. Student engagement is predicated on the theory that learning is successful when students show interest, become inquisitive, and feel inspired to be taught. Learning and developmental growth, unfortunately, suffer when students are disengaged, dispassionate, or bored during teaching.

Educators must get creative and incorporate new strategies to increase student engagement and foster learning.

Different Types of Student Engagement

Behavioral Engagement

This involves student participation in class work, attendance, concentration, social aspects of the learning, or extracurricular activities.

Emotional Engagement

These are a student’s feelings toward a particular subject or a course, value in lessons, academic experience, peers, teacher, or faculty.

Intellectual Engagement

This is the motivation of a student and the amount of investment they have in their education. It demonstrates how much they take ownership of their studies and proactively set and pursue set goals.

Cultural Engagement

Students from diverse cultural backgrounds need to feel accepted in their surroundings. Schools must establish measures to make them feel welcomed, safe, and valued in their new settings by offering orientation programs or language services. Extracurricular activities are another opportunity to incorporate multicultural events like songs and dances. Fostering cultural diversity will reflect the school community while boosting student engagement in their academics and extracurricular activities.

Social Engagement

Social interactions highly encourage student engagement in the classroom. Promote group collaborative projects or competitions to help students build relationships.

Proven Student Engagement Strategies

Here are some effective strategies to keep your students highly engaged in learning, like offering feedback.

Classroom Management Strategies

Distractions in the classroom cause your students to lose focus on your lesson and adversely affect their learning. Classroom-centered management strategies help create a structured environment. First of all, class rules can reduce unnecessary distractions and improve learning. Classroom rules set expectations. Teachers can increase learner buy-in by allowing them to help shape the rules. Additionally, class routines attract students’ attention. You can signal your students when it is time for learning so they can stop what they are doing and pay attention. Finally, classroom standards must be established, such as not allowing any demeaning or dismissive language to be used. Students should be empowered to share their opinions, creating an environment where they feel safe and engaged.

Active Learning

Active participation strategies get students engaged in lessons and break up the traditional lecture. Active learning encourages co-existence among the students when they need to solve a problem or complete a project together. Essentially, it provides several approaches to the lesson and engages all students in the learning process.

Blended Learning

Blended learning combines digital learning tools and traditional teaching methods. Students work toward mastering concepts in a blended environment before moving on. This helps fix learning gaps and build a strong foundation for more advanced engagements. An example of a blended technique is when learners rotate from group activities to online work to individual learning.

Class Participation Strategies

When only a few of your students in the classroom respond to most of the questions, it reveals that the rest of your students feel disengaged or uninterested. Luckily, you can use several active participation strategies to get all of them involved.

Popsicle Stick

Popsicle stick names are a popular way of getting learners engaged throughout a lesson. Write the names of each student on a popsicle stick and place it in a mug. Pull out the stick every time you need an answer, and have the corresponding student respond. Some students may be shy, so it’s important to reinforce that they won’t be penalized for a wrong answer. Participation is more important than accuracy.

Wait Time

Give learners adequate time to think over questions asked and avoid always being the one to answer whenever your questions are met with silence. The students need to develop some form of confidence and space to respond even to the most complex problems.


Embrace classroom discussions amongst students. When you allow your learners to discuss questions, you’re not only helping develop personal responsibility, but you’re also mobilizing the disengaged students to participate.

Reciprocal Teaching

Reciprocal teaching techniques get students excited to be a part of the lesson. Reciprocal teaching strategies are centered around a unique concept of modeling to the students, getting them to practice in groups, and finally learning to perfect the technique individually. It establishes a sense of togetherness.

Responsive Cultural Teaching

Students quickly engage in the material when it involves relevant information or if they identify with their instructor. For example, you can bring guest speakers drawn from the local community to discuss a subject matter. A study from 2015 revealed that students show more interest and work harder when they realize they share a commonality with their educator.

Project-Based Learning

Researchers analyzed 82 different studies and discovered that project-based learning creates the ultimate classroom environment for most students. Projects are more exciting for students. It presents a challenge for them to either work individually or in groups to solve a problem. Engaging learners through projects encourages them to apply what they learned in the classroom and develop their problem-solving skills.

Use of Modern Technology

Modern technology enables teachers to connect better with their students by eliminating distractions. Software from GoGuardian is an excellent tool for helping teachers engage their students. It helps make classrooms more manageable by giving the teacher more control over their classroom.

No Two Students Are Alike

Everyone learns in different ways, and today’s students require strategic planning by their teachers to feel engaged. Simply altering your routine, creating group projects, or bringing in a class speaker will help invigorate your classroom. Over time, studies have proven that student engagement strategies ultimately determine a student’s success. Experiment and get creative in discovering the best way to teach your class this semester, but also check out our State of Engagement Report for a deeper dive into what drives student engagement.