Engagement For better learning

What has led to the challenge?

Our challenge is a main problem in education. If unsolved, it can lead to school abandon, indiscipline or school failiure among students and a lot of teachers' frustration.

If teachers want to succed in their classroom they must conquer/involve students. We still need to understand how we can do it, how others do it, share what we already do successfully. Sharing is the best way.

Is it throughout the study of meaningful subjects, in such a way that awakens students' curiosity, with a certain amount of joy and investing happiness in the learning process?

If teachers achieve their goal and get to involve their students they will be happier and less stressed as well as the youngsters.

What is student engagement?

Students engagement could be defined as the student’s active participation in academic and co-curricular or school-related activities and commitment to educational goals and learning. Instead as stated by Skinner (1993) "Disaffected [students] are passive, do not try hard, and give up easily in the face of challenges… [they can] be bored, depressed, anxious, or even angry about their presence in the classroom; they can be withdrawn from learning opportunities or even rebellious towards teachers and classmates.” We can easily identify engaged students when we see one. They’re the students arriving to class on time, prepared to learn, who participate in class, complete their schoolwork, and earn good grades.

These observable indicators of engagement are examples of academic and behavioral engagement.

Academic Engagement refers to students engaging in instruction and academic work. It can be observed through such indicators as credits earned, homework completion with accuracy, time on task, and standards met.

Behavioral Engagement refers to students participating in classroom and extracurricular activities and behaving appropriately. It can be observed through attendance, extracurricular participation, behavior/office referrals, suspensions, effort, and persistence.

The other two types of engagement are less observable, but critical to school success: cognitive and affective engagement.

Cognitive Engagement refers to students’ belief that schoolwork is relevant to their life and future goals. It is also about setting academic goals, using effective study strategies, and being motivated to learn. Students who are cognitively engaged feel that they can and want tosucceed in school.

Affective Engagement refers to students’ sense of belonging and identification with school, their relationships with peers and adults in the school, and their perceived support for learning. Students who are affectively engaged feel that they belong in the school community.

These four subtypes of student engagement are interrelated – students’ perceptions about the relevance of school or their sense of belonging at school impact their participation in school and their academic performance. This means that when we as mentors or educators work to engage students, we need to focus our efforts on each of these areas – not just changing students’ behavior, but helping students to integrate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to be more successful in school.

What groups of people are affected (culture, age, gender, background, etc.)? Our students are from 8 to 19 years and we agree that every y age has its 'kind' of engagement. For the youngest some fun activities like playing a game or singing a song shoul be the key for involving them and thay can learn without having the feeling that they are learning. For the other students it's different and we have to think maybe at something technological just to beshow them another use of the cellphones of the computer

Why are they affected?

Why are students affected by the lack of interest in school?

We think it's a question with many answers. However, in this moment, it only matters finding the answers that can help making a change in this situation.

Having a lot of years of teaching experience, we know that:

- Too vast subjects curriculum and national exams don't allow a teacher to think much about the student involvement. If subjects curriculum were shortened, it would be possible to apply more often active methodologies and strategies that for sure would interest/involve students.

- Some parents, maybe because of the recent crisis, think that school is no longer a way to get a well paid job in the future, so sometimes they discredit school in front of the youngsters and that is a problem.

- Outside school students have lots of fresh interesting and motivating things but school is still​ old. By old I mean it has to find its place in this century and school is struggling to find it. Perhaps we can give a hand.

Maria do Carmo Vieira da Silva, Diversidade Cultural na Escola:encontros email desencontros. Lisboa: Editora Colibri

Silva has developed a case study about cultural diversity in Portuguese School. She begins explaining that students, according to their cultural background, represent school differently. Their concept doesn't correspond to the concept of the "model student" of the traditional school. Their concept is shaped accordingly to their cultural background.

This may represent an issue or an opportunity, depending on the teachers point of view about education. According to Demorgon, cultural differences in contact with each other become richer and will achieve more effective results. The interaction, cooperation and sharing of ideas among students of different cultures is a gain.

Stereotype is also a problem that both student and teacher must overcome if students will be involved in education.

Teachers expectations are connected to stereotypes and sometimes they can ruin students involvement in classroom work.

According to Silva, there is the need to refocus teachers initial training, enlightening the multicultural problematic of the Portuguese society and the school role in the XXIst century.

In a multicultural school every group will be affected. If students aren't sure they fit, they have a place/they are accepted , they will never be involved in the classroom because they know they aren't wellcome.

Maria do Carmo Vieira da Silva, Diversidade Cultural na Escola:encontros email desencontros. Lisboa: Editora Colibri Silva has developed a case study about cultural diversity in Portuguese School. She begins explaining that students, according to their cultural background, represent school differently. Their concept doesn't correspond to the concept of the "model student" of the traditional school. Their concept is shaped accordingly to their cultural background. This may represent an issue or an opportunity, depending on the teachers point of view about education. According to Demorgon, cultural differences in contact with each other become richer and will achieve more effective results. The interaction, cooperation and sharing of ideas among students of different cultures is a gain. Stereotype is also a problem that both student and teacher must overcome if students will be involved in education. Teachers expectations are connected to stereotypes and sometimes they can ruin students involvement in classroom work. According to Silva, there is the need to refocus teachers initial training, enlightening the multicultural problematic of the Portuguese society and the school role in the XXIst century. In a multicultural school every group will be affected. If students aren't sure they fit, they have a place/they are accepted , they will never be involved in the classroom because they know they aren't wellcome.

Every students, as learner , is affected by a lack of interest, it’s usual .That should depend on the age : the teenage is a hard age , you need to find your path and it's not easy. That should depend also on the background that everyone has: how is your family? Where do you live? What kind of neighborhood do you face every day? In my/our experience as a teacher I noticed that if the students ‘have a family’ , that means if the parents are involved in the school’s business, the students are a better learning in avery way: they have a good behavior, they can how to study without wasting their time and they have generally a better average knowledge about history, geography and the nowadays facts.If they haven't a family as a support, they often have a bad behavior and they are generally not good students.

What factors are contributing to it?

The factors contributing to student's engament can be grouped in three main categories: institutions that means schools, teachers, and external inflences ( families, friends, health, income...)

Schools have to be open and respectful places to all students, regardeless their differnt background, a school must be seen and felt as a save place where everyone could express him/herself freely . A place that offers support and help to all students giving them the possibility to grow up to become responsible citizen of our society.

We have a great responsibility: our students are strongly influenced by us, because we are the second adult figure that they can refer to. So we must like our job and we must love what we teach. Sometimes ( for any reason) teachers are not able to guarantee a good level of communication and this could led the students to disliking learning. Besides, also STEM subjects don't involve students in learning and this is for many reasons: - they are not easy to understand and need a lot of exercises; - they don't seem have a real substance; - for example in Italy, the schools don't have a right laboratory to try some simple experiment

External influences play an important role too: how is your family? Where do you live? What kind of neighborhood do you face every day? In our experience as a teacher we noticed that if the students ‘have a family’ , that means if the parents are involved in the school’s matters, the students are better learners in every way: they have a good behavior, they can learn how to study without wasting their time and they have, generally a better knowledge of history, geography and the nowadays facts.

Students are learning about Quantum Mechanics doing crosswords. They are enjoying and learning in the meantime

Created By
Clara Lucano
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