Teaching at PLU

Maintaining Student Engagement

Posted by: Date: August 25, 2015 In:

by Dana Bodewes, Instructional Designer

student reading on lawn
 The Northwest has experienced some beautiful weather lately and the effects of spring fever are soon to appear in the classroom. It can be difficult to focus on work when sunshine and warmer temperatures are beckoning us outside! Perhaps this is a good time to consider ways to keep your students interested and engaged in class activities. Below I have listed some strategies to increase student interest and engagement in any course.
  • Games and Competition: Game-based learning isn’t just for children. Games tap into the human desire for competition and utilize scheduled, intermittent rewards to keep learners motivated. Games for higher education are growing in popularity. (Check out the Educational Gaming Commons hosted by Penn State.) But, even simple, low-tech games or competitions can make learning really engaging for students.
  • Applied Learning: Students consistently report that they value learning experiences more when the learning is applied to real-world situations or scenarios relevant to their future professions. When possible, look for opportunities to use case studies, simulations, or role-playing to help ground theoretical ideas.
  • Formative Assessments: Keep students on their toes and paying attention by integrating quick assessments of learning. Assessments can be implemented using clickers, online polls, or even Twitter to gather and report on student responses to a topic or question. A free account with Poll Everywhere can you get started with integrating simple formative assessments.
  • Peer Learning: Spend any time around teens and young adults and there’s no denying the effects of peer learning. Look for opportunities to utilize group projects, student presentations, and peer feedback. Collaboration tools and clear directions help to set students up for success when working in groups.
  • Creativity and Personalization: When assigning projects, students may become more engaged when there are opportunities to get creative or to personalize the project to their individual interests. For example, you may consider letting students share research by creating a video documentary, a journal article, or a web page.
  • Debate and Discussion: To keep students engaged, you may want to post a trending news story or controversial idea for debate or discussion in an online forum. Some cognitive dissonance can peak student interest and push them to analyze their opinions in light of new information or differing perspectives.
  • Guest Speakers: To spark interest and introduce variety, consider inviting a guest speaker to talk to your class. Students can converse live with your guest in person or using a web-conferencing tool. They could also interact asynchronously with a guest using a discussion forum or social media tool like Twitter or Facebook.

If you are interested in learning more, check out this blog post Understand, Engage, Connect: Meeting Millennials Learners Where They Are. If you are ready to try a new engaging activity, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Instructional Technologies for assistance and support.

Originally posted 2/28/2015 in PLU’s Instructional Technologies blog

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