Teaching for Engagement
Engagement is essential for learning. In order to maintain interest, manage working knowledge, and eventually master a topic, skill, concept or idea, students need opportunities and environments that support reflection, practice, constructive feedback, and collaboration. The results from the 2011 National Survey for Student Engagement can give you an idea of how UD students are engaged with the university. It describes multiple levels of engagement that keep students studying and motivated to complete their degrees. One principle site is the classroom. So, we ask:
What might an engaged classroom look like?
Students are efficient and productive during class activities
- Students actively participate in class discussions
- Students pay attention during lectures
How can I engage my students?
There are many ways to engage students and support their learning. CTAL has compiled a growing list of resources below for your exploration. We also invite you to schedule a consultation with one of our staff members to talk about possibilities. Our ultimate goal is to provide you with tools and ideas so you can teach in ways that:
- encourage contact between students and faculty
- develop reciprocity and cooperation among students
- encourage active learning
- give prompt feedback
- emphasize time on task
- communicate high expectations
- respect diverse talents and ways of learning
Using Active Learning Techniques
"Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write reflectively about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves." (Chickering & Gamson, 1987)
ACTIVE LEARNING is defined as any strategy "that involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing". (*Bonwell, C., & Eison, J. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1). Washington, DC: George Washington University, p. 2)
ACTIVE LEARNING includes a range of teaching and learning activities. These strategies, supported by decades of classroom research, may be thought of as a continuum from low risk to high risk for both teachers and students. Such a continuum may include (but not be limited to) strategies such as some of the following:
- involving students in well structured question and answer sessions in lecture classes
- individual think and write exercises, such as the pause technique or one minute papers
- pairing activities such as "think, pair, share"
- interactive seminars
- case studies
More complex and higher risk processes might include such activities as:
- individual and group project based assignments;
- student involvement in research,
- practicum experiences,
- student teaching,
- clinical preceptor structures
Highest risk processes may include such carefully structured small group based strategies as some of these more familiar ones:
- collaborative learning
- cooperative learning
- team learning
- problem-based learning
As you can see, there are many names for strategies that apply what we know from the research. Summaries of classroom research have revealed a number of best practices that encourage active student participation in the learning process. For example, collaborative learning encompasses a variety of approaches to education, that may also be referred to as cooperative learning or small group learning. What is more important than the names are that these strategies create an environment that engage students who might not otherwise be engaged in their own learning in meaningful ways. Collaborative learning, then, is one among a wide variety of teaching strategies that each contribute to the total picture of making learning a deeper, more engaging, meaningful, active and effective process.
Helping your students develop critical thinking skills, Lynch & Wolcott, October 2001, IDEA Paper #37. (pdf)
Critical Thinking Community - The site links directly to the Center for Critical Thinking and to The Institute for Teaching and Learning at San Jose State University.
WolcottLynch Associates offers a web site that specializes in the development of critical thinking. It also has a special site for educators with handouts and recommended resources. It also features a free web-based tutorial on developing critical thinking and problem solving skills.
This well-known classification of learning objectives attempts to classify forms of learning.
National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), conducted by the Indiana University Center for Post-secondary
Research and Planning. The purpose of the survey is to provide reliable and credible information about the "quality" of the undergraduate experience. During the 2001 Spring Semester, the University of Delaware participated in the survey.
Survey results for UD students
Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education
Brief summary of the seven principles as compiled by the American Association of Higher Education, the Education Commission of States, and The Johnson Foundation. See also Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (1991), Chickering, A. W. & Gamson, Z. F. For additional information see the article in the TA Handbook.
- Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education
- Problem-Based Learning at the University of Delaware Resources for faculty on problem-based learning
- Research-Based Education Template for promoting discovery-based learning
- Students' Voices on Learning and Teaching at Delaware (PDF)
- 101 Things to Do in the First Three Weeks of Class
- Active Learning Strategies for Humanities Curricula
Charles Bonwell's Active Learning Site
Resources include bibliographies, workshop schedules, and more.
- Problem-Based Learning in Large Classes
Resources in Science and Engineering Education: Richard Felder's Homepage
A website, designed and maintained by Richard Felder, Hoechst Celanese Professor of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University, offers a broad range of resources on active and collaborative learning. Although the instructional methods are rooted in the Sciences and Engineering, they are applicable and relevant to all disciplines.
- POGIL Process Oriented Guided Inquiy Learning "POGIL uses guided inquiry – a learning cycle of exploration, concept invention and application is the basis for many of the carefully designed materials that students use to guide them to construct new knowledge. POGIL is a student-centered strategy; students work in small groups with individual roles to ensure that all students are fully engaged in the learning process." (pogil.org)
- Team Based Learning