Student Engagement: Definition & Theory

Instructor: Mary Firestone
Find out what student engagement is, and its importance for learning. Learn about student engagement theory. Read the lesson then take a quiz to test your new knowledge.


Student engagement is something that teachers strive for in their classrooms, but it's a term that isn't always easy to define. Generally, student engagement is when students are interested in the task at hand even when the work is challenging. They persevere despite the obstacles and take pride in the completed work, according to Adam Fletcher.

Theory of Engagement

The theory of engagement is based on motivation and the idea that when students find the lesson meaningful and have a high level of interest in the tasks, they learn more effectively, tend to retain the information and are able to transfer it to other contexts. Teachers who want to increase the chances that their students will have this level of engagement can do so when '...they provide those qualities that are most likely to appeal to the values, interests and needs of the students involved' (Schlecty Center for Leadership in School Reform).

Tips for Better Student Engagement

Since students have a variety of values, interests and needs, teachers face a challenge when it comes to student engagement. Teacher Tristan de Frondeville (2009) has developed a variety of ways that have helped him increase student engagement in his classroom:

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