How to Deal with Disengaged Students

Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

Teachers are often frustrated by students who are disengaged in class. This lesson will discuss strategies on how to deal with disengaged students in class and reignite their interest in learning.

High School Dropout

Matthew is a 17 year-old student in Mrs. Hess's chemistry class. He is constantly interrupting her during class by asking questions that are off topic, or having sidebar conversations with his friends. He appears to have absolutely no interest in learning the material and so far averages a 58% in the class. Attempts to talk to Matthew and conference with his parents have not helped the situation at all. When Matthew drops out of school on his 18th birthday, Mrs. Hess is dismayed but not surprised.

Disengaged Students

Dealing with disengaged students like Matthew is becoming a real challenge for educators. Disengaged students generally lose interest in academic learning. The three main indicators that characterize a disengaged student are:

  1. They don't show interest in what is being taught and don't ask questions about the materials presented
  2. They don't recognize the value in the material they are being taught
  3. They don't feel motivated to learn and their academic performance suffers

Consequences of Disengaged Students

There can be several consequences when students are not engaged in the classroom. Poor grades can lead to failing classes, getting held back a grade, or being unable to get into college or university. One of the most concerning is increased high school dropout rates. Many students who don't see the value in learning or attending school will disengage and as a result of this disengagement may drop out of school. Let's take a look at some recent high school dropout statistics:

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