Back To CourseEducational Psychology: Tutoring Solution
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No two students are alike, and this often creates a difficult task for teachers with regards to engaging students. Student engagement level has a direct correlation to student outcomes. For the purpose of this lesson, active engagement is defined as both the amount of time that students spend on-task during a lesson and their level of participation during that time. This varies from student to student and lesson to lesson, but there are a number of factors within the teacher's locus of control that can increase opportunities for students to fully engage. Engagement strategies must fulfill the following criteria to ensure the greatest chance for students to process and retain information:
The research efforts of notable educators such as Dr. Robert Marzano, Charlotte Danielson and many others have sought, for decades, tangible methods to create and measure student engagement. The strategies explored in this lesson represent a small sample of those years of educational research and are most common in elementary and middle school settings. Adaptations of the techniques are equally effective for engaging students through college level.
Getting and keeping students' attention leads to accountability in the classroom. Students must believe that they are required to participate, yet they must also feel comfortable taking risks. The following strategies can be used by the teacher to gain and sustain student attention:
The tone for class should be set the moment that the bell rings or when students transition to an activity. This can be accomplished using the Do-Now/Bell Ringer strategy. One effective way to create this structure is by having an engaging short assignment (quick write, challenging math problem, controversial question, etc.) that is ready for students to work independently on prior to beginning the lesson. While these assignments are not often graded, the teacher can circulate to check in as a means to make sure students are on task during the activity.
This strategy is often referred to as '10 and 2,' which simply means for every 10 minutes of content or information delivered by the teacher, the students should be allowed 2 minutes to process that information. Breaking up the content into chunks allows for a greater level of engagement with and retention of information. This is similar to memorizing a telephone number, where the ten digits are broken into chunks of 3 to 4 digits. The two minutes of processing creates opportunities for students to think critically about the information based on questions or tasks that the teacher gives during that time.
Time on-task is a major component of active engagement. Maximizing the time allotted for lessons requires teachers to develop quick and efficient ways to regain student attention if they become off-task. Non-verbal cues, such as rhythmic clapping, hand signals, chimes, and other creative techniques, create a way for teachers to discreetly and respectfully regain the attention of individual students and groups. One example would be Give Me 5, where the teacher raises an open hand and waits for students to respond appropriately to signal they are ready to learn.
To create a culture of being ready and accountable, teachers randomly call on students during the lesson whether their hands are raised or not. This is done in a respectful way, and effort is validated even if the answer is incorrect. Teachers must safeguard against making this an ''I gotcha'' moment, which may cause embarrassment.
Even the brightest students need assistance at times. This strategy empowers students to seek the help of a classmate when they are called on to answer a question or solve a problem. This forges interdependence and collaboration in the classroom. The student seeking help hears the correct answer, and the teacher returns to that student to repeat the correct answer so that he or she is still fully participative in the process and accountable to the information.
With a primary goal of education being to encourage critical thinkers, the types of questions being asked of students impact their level of critical engagement with the content. In alignment with Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy (levels of questions), the goal of higher-order questioning is to move students beyond basic remembering and understanding to more rigorous thinking; for example, asking the student to create an analogy for the cell wall in an animal cell, versus simply labeling the organelles.
These strategies are structures put in place by the teacher that enable students to collaborate and interact around academic content:
There are a number of partner share strategies that create student-to-student engagement. Two of the more commonly used are Turn and Talk and Think, Pair, Share. There is a problem, question, or task to be resolved, and students are allowed think time to process, work with a partner to refine their thinking, or gain new insights and then share them with the class. In many variations of these strategies, students must summarize their partner's learnings to the class, increasing the rigor of the activity. These multiple exposures to the content create rich and authentic engagement that aid in retention of information.
To encourage movement and collaboration, students respond to questions by moving to different areas of the room, discussing their rationale and sharing with the class. For example, students are reviewing for an exam, and each of four corners in the room represent one of the multiple choice answers on the assessment. When prompted, each student moves to the corner that reflects the answer he or she thinks is correct. They will discuss why they selected that answer, and eventually a few students will share the group's rationale with the rest of the class.
The Jigsaw strategy works well for group work to ensure that there is a fair distribution of work amongst group members and to build accountability into the process. Students are assigned to home groups where they receive their assignments. They then move to expert groups where they are responsible for gaining knowledge to take back to their home groups. The expert pieces are put together for the final group product.
While this is not an exhaustive list of student engagement strategies, these are all effective ways to get and keep student attention. Active engagement is defined as both the amount of time that students spend on-task during a lesson and their level of participation during that time. These strategies are especially useful when coupled with a set of routines and procedures that have been implemented, practiced, and internalized to create a classroom culture of respect and that encourages risk-taking. The most successful educators assess the needs of their particular students and apply the strategies that are a best fit for the group of students that they serve.
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Back To CourseEducational Psychology: Tutoring Solution
9 chapters | 328 lessons
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