One of the questions CELT receives on a regular basis is, “How can I engage my students in the course content?” Or, “How do I help my students engage with course content more meaningfully?”
In the article titled, “ Engaged Learning: Are we all on the same page” Dr. Bowen (2005) observed that “engagement is increasingly cited as a distinguishing characteristic of the best learning in American higher education today.” Dr. Bowen discusses four ways in which we can engage with student learners that may be known as other initiatives in higher education:
Engagement with the learning process is similar to active learning.
Engagement with the object of study is similar to experiential learning.
Engagement with contexts generally is similar to multidisciplinary learning.
Engagement with social and civic contexts is similar to service learning.
Our upcoming workshop, Engagement Strategies for Every Classroom on September 20 (12:10 – 1:00 p.m., 2030 Morrill Hall) will feature engagement with the learning process or active learning strategies. Many of the learning activities help students progress cognitively by engaging them on an affective level (enjoyment) and on a kinesthetic level (physical).
One of my favorite engagement strategies, from this workshop, is called the “Barometer” or the “Continuum”. It is an interactive opportunity for students to share their opinions by asking them to line up along a continuum based on their position on an issue. It is especially useful when you want to discuss an issue about which students have a wide range of opinions. The Barometer or Continuum can be used to:
Gauge student knowledge, beliefs, perceptions
Demonstrate the wide array of knowledge, beliefs, perceptions on a topic
Because a Barometer activity makes many positions viewable, it can be an effective pre-writing exercise before an essay assignment.
All that you need is space for students to physically move to their place of agreement on the continuum. If space is not available, you can ask students to indicate with their hands (raised or lowered) their opinion.
Welcome back to campus! Spring Break has come and gone and now is a great opportunity to consider new ways to re-engage students after the break. I came across this resource on active learning strategies a number of years ago and have referred back to it many times. The CELT version of this resource is available for download via 226 Active Learning Techniques (PDF) link.
It has over 220 active learning ideas to choose from (which can be a little overwhelming), but the list is categorized by what action the instructor takes as well as the student actions. It further organizes the activities based on overall class size and by student group size (i.e. pairs or small groups). It’s worth a quick look to see if there is something you might want to try in your course over the next few weeks.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
I’ve spoken to a number of colleagues from across campus over the past few months and asked them what their teaching plans were for this fall semester. One of the common themes in our conversations was their desire to find new or better ways to engage students in the classroom environment. For some that meant requesting a classroom space with moveable furniture that more easily supports active learning strategies. For others, it meant fully converting their course to a team-based learning format. Another group of colleagues were thinking about new ways to effectively engage students in class discussions. All of them had a true desire to enhance their students’ learning experiences. I look forward to checking in with them mid-semester to see how things are going.
If you are looking for ways to increase student engagement, this upcoming CELT program may be of interest. CELT is hosting a four-part series on Evidence-Based Techniques to Enhance Student Learning and Engagement that will provide examples of how to engage students across the entirety of the course. The program series features a fantastic group of ISU faculty from a variety of disciplines who will describe how to implement effective instructional design based on cognitive psychology and the learning retrieval practice. The first session is Thursday, September 8, 2:30-4:00. More information is available on the CELT Events and Registration website.