For some, the title of this article represents three words you can’t wait to hear from your significant other; for others, these three words cause fear and anxiety. But for those of us who teach, these words represent the fruit of a healthy teacher-student relationship and the difference between a classroom with a healthy culture and one that is toxic.
Student engagement is an essential aspect of K–12 education. After all, it plays a crucial role in enhancing the learning experience and academic performance of students. When students are actively engaged in their learning, they are more motivated, focused, and interested in their studies, which helps them to retain information better and perform well in their academic tasks. However, disengaged students may struggle with their academic tasks, negatively affecting their academic progress. Thus, promoting student engagement in K–12 education is crucial for improving the learning outcomes of students.
Research conducted in 2012 by the National Research Council supports the importance of student engagement in K–12 education. For instance, the study found that student engagement is a crucial predictor of academic achievement and persistence in school (National Research Council, 2012). The report further emphasized that student engagement should be given more attention in K–12 education as it is a significant factor that determines the success of students.
Student engagement in K–12 education is not only essential for academic performance but also for social and emotional development. Engaged students tend to have a more positive attitude toward school as well as greater self-esteem and social competence. They are also more likely to participate in extracurricular activities and develop beneficial relationships with their peers (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). In contrast, disengaged students are more likely to experience negative emotions such as boredom, frustration, and anxiety, which can negatively affect their social and emotional well-being.
Several factors influence student engagement in K–12 education. For instance, students’ motivation, interests, and learning styles can affect their engagement levels. Environmental factors, such as the classroom climate, teacher-student relationships, and availability of resources, can also influence student engagement. A positive classroom climate where students feel safe and valued is critical in promoting student engagement (Skinner & Belmont, 1993). Teachers who foster positive relationships with their students and show interest in their lives can also enhance student engagement.
In conclusion, student engagement is a crucial aspect of K–12 education that has a significant impact on the academic, social, and emotional development of students. Research highlights the importance of student engagement in promoting academic achievement and persistence in school. Several factors influence student engagement, including individual and environmental factors, and several strategies can be employed to promote it. Thus, educators and policymakers should prioritize promoting student engagement in K–12 education to enhance the learning outcomes and well-being of all students. Say those magical three words with me: “Let’s get engaged!”
Fredricks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Paris, A. H. (2004). School engagement: Potential of the concept, state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 59–109. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543074001059
Larreamendy-Joerns, J., & Leinhardt, G. (2006). Going the distance with online education. Review of Educational Research, 76(4), 567–605. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543076004567
Skinner, E. A., & Belmont, M. J. (1993). Motivation in the classroom: Reciprocal effects of teacher behavior and student engagement across the school year. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(4), 571–581. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06184.108.40.2061
As a national and international professional speaker, trainer, and author, Carlos Johnson, aka “Coach Carlos,” utilizes his experience and research to change school culture and increase parental engagement, student enrollment, and staff and student retention.