Teaching & Learning Tips

A collection of tips and tools designed to aid in transitioning instruction online.

Three Dimensions of Student Engagement

Sep 15, 2020

dimensions-student-engagement-bannerThere has been increased attention on the importance of engagement and its role in enhancing learning, and promoting student motivation and retention. Student engagement is a multi-faced concept (cognitive, emotional, and behavioral) and should be examined holistically, rather than in isolation. Through our course design, syllabus, activities, content, and assessment, instructors have a strong influence on how our students think, feel, and act.

Cognitive engagement can be seen in activities such as solving complex problems, employing thinking skills described in Bloom's Taxonomy, and implementing learning strategies such as reviewing the content and participating in question and answer sessions. When students ask for clarification or provide examples themselves, they are cognitively engaged.  In these instances, students begin to process (and “own”) the concepts, skills, and attitudes presented.

    Emotional engagement describes the feelings students have and exhibit in your course. These feelings can range from confusion and anxiety to excitement and anticipation, and including apathy. When one is engaged in an activity that brings enjoyment or curiosity, such as watching a television show, doing a hobby, or listening to a podcast, one tends to invest more time and effort.  A positive emotional engagement can also support the student to persevere during times of failure and promote self-efficacy.

    Behavioral engagement are the observable indicators of cognitive and emotional engagement. Effective instructors take note of when students nod in agreement or smile, look puzzled, take notes, or volunteer a question or response. An additional indicator is time on task. However, these physical behaviors may not reveal the true depth and breadth of student engagement.  As such, implementing timely appropriate active learning strategies during the session may provide a more accurate assessment of our students’ engagement.

Boyking, A. W., & Noguera, P. Creating the Opportunity to Learn. ASCD. Retrieved June 2020, from   http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/107016/chapters/Engagement.aspx.

Fredericks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Paris, A.H. (2004). School Engagement: Potential of the Concept State of the Evidence. Retrieved June 2020, from https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543074001059