Student Engagement : Product Of Motivation And Active learning

By: Marwa Kotb.

In the textbook “Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty” for Elizabeth Barkley, the author defined student engagement to be “the product of motivation and active learning. It is a product rather than a sum because it will not occur if either elements is missing.” (Barkley, 2010, p. 6). After reading the definition provided by the author, I questioned if I could personally write a solid definition for the term. I wrote three sentences in an attempt to define engagement, “it is an essential player in the educational process”, “related to student participation and effort in classroom’, and “educators play an important role to keep students engaged”.

I realized that I couldn’t give a solid definition for the term though I frequently use it and try to seek the very recent strategies and techniques to keep my online learners engaged. Then, I explored definitions for student engagement, I found two significant definitions. The first one was student engagement “indicates an identity, to a significant degree, between the student and the act of learning” (Barnett & Coate, 2005, p. 128). The second, engagement is “the involvement of individuals with phenomena that are relevant to and instrumental for their learning” (Coates, 2006, p. 17). I saw a lot of value in the terms “identity” and “involvement” in the previous two definition as they show the solid bond between engagement and learning, but I still think that Barkley’s definition is most creative and close to my own mindset as she placed the definition in the form of a formula i.e. engagement = active learning x motivation that explain clearly the connection between those three educational components.

Later, I tried to interpret the author’s definition or in other words connect theory to practice. To keep students engaged, I have to purse motivation the multiplicand of the process, it is recommended that educators should shift learners from the “extrinsic reward mindset” (Battista &Ruble, 2014, January 13) to become “long-term intrinsically motivated” (Battista &Ruble, 2014, January 13), and that could be done if educators could create a sense that make students feel autonomous, competent and relatedness which will foster their self-determination (Kelly, 2014, May 13). As for active learning i.e. the multiplier, it is defined as “an umbrella term for pedagogies focusing on student activity and student engagement in the learning process (Prince, 2004).”(As cited in Roehl, Reddy & Shannon, 2013), thus educators should work to integrate pedagogies such as cooperative learning, problem-based learning, peer teaching, self-assessment, reflective and experiential learning which will help students to work in teams to achieve their goals, and develop effective problem solving skills and become self-directed learners (Garrett, 2011, November).


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