Student Perspectives on Engagement

What approaches to teaching and learning engage students? In last week’s most-clicked ASCD SmartBrief story, teacher, author, and all-around cool lady Heather Wolpert-Gawron put that question to her 8th graders–all 220 of them. Their answers are a good gut-check for lesson planning, or for trouble-shooting persistent classroom managment issues.

Students said they were more likely to be engaged in learning if lessons involved movement, working with peers, working with technology, visuals, and student choice. Students wanted teachers who are clearly passionate about teaching, use a variety of instructional modes and strategies, build relationships with and listen to students, and have fun.

Anecdotally, Wolpert-Gawron’s findings correlate with results from the 81,499 students surveyed in Indiana University’s High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE):  

When asked what methods of teaching and learning would excite them in school, students favored discussion and debate (83 percent); group projects (83 percent); role-playing (69 percent); and art and drama activities (67 percent) over activities in which they do not play an active role. Nearly one-half of students indicated that they were “not at all excited” by teacher lectures.

Explore free ASCD resources on student engagement:

  • Engagement is one of the five tenets of ASCD’s vision for a whole child education. You can find tons of resources under the “Engaged” category of the Whole Child Blog
  • Watch the webinar and download the handouts for “Why Aren’t My Students Paying Attention?” hosted by Judy Willis. More brain and learning webinars by Willis can be accessed here.