Engagement is a valuable part of the classroom setting. Without it, you may never know if your students are gaining a high level of understanding or simply regurgitating facts. There are many factors that go into engagement. There are ways to inspire engagement in a classroom, but there are also factors that play into disengagement as well. To start off, we need a better understanding of what engagement looks like.
Typical levels of Engagement
There are 5 typical levels of engagement. They vary in degrees of ideal engagement and very clear disengagement.
Rebellion is the most disengaged a student can be. This is where are student will actively disrupt class, attempt to do other activities, and refuses to do the actual assigned task.
Retreatism is similar to rebellion, but without the disruption. The are disengaged with the work and the lesson, but are not actively attempting to disrupt class.
- Passive Compliance
Passive compliance refers to a student who sees little or no value at all in a lesson, but does the work anyway. They do the work to avoid negative interactions, but are not giving it their all.
- Ritual Compliance
Ritual Compliance happens in certain students who find little value in the work immediately, but there are extrinsic motivators that keep them engaged. It could be anything from receiving good grades to making their parents proud, but they are not doing it for themselves or the sake of learning.
- Authentic Engagement
Authentic Engagement is what every teacher hopes to see. A student who received immediate value from the lesson for an internal reason. These students are immersed in the work and are soaking up the knowledge being provided to them.
Factors of the disengagement
More often than not, disengagement is not from a general lack of care for a subject, but rather external factors. Each student has a unique and new level of engagement for different reasons on different days. The most common reasons for disengagement are, outside social factors, low level understanding, and even a specific teaching style can throw a student off.
Social factors play a large role in disengagement. Students have hectic lives outside of the classroom, some more so than others. Family issues, pressures from friends, even a busy extracurricular schedule can cause a student to not be present in the classroom.
If a student has a low level of understanding, that can often lead to disengagement. It is much easier to give up and stop paying attention than it is to ask for help. Also the social embarrassment of asking questions can sway student away from being engaged and getting the help they need.
Finally, teaching style can cause disengagement. A student may be a hands on, visual learner, but a particular teacher relies on a lecture style of teaching. These two styles of learning and teaching do not mesh and can cause a student to become uninterested.
Ways to Inspire Engagement
There are many ways to inspire engagement within the classroom. Taking the time to evaluate the way you produce lessons and the things you are incorporating is a great start. Additionally, here are a few ways to get outside of the norm and offer students with meaningful classroom interactions.
- Classroom Collaboration
- Tech, ie social media
- Personal Connection
- Create a safe classroom (emotionally & intellectually)
- Explanation Culture – giving detail, not just a short answer (shows understanding)
- Give Feedback
The examples above garner engagement because they pull from areas outside of the classroom and make them relatable. Tying the classroom to the real world will provide students with a better understanding of the world they live in and how they interact with it.