Student engagement is a primary and critical component of successful teaching and learning. Student disengagement can significantly hinder a lesson’s effectiveness, but an engaged pupil performs better academically and grasps new material faster than distracted or disengaged peers. Efficiently and effectively measuring student engagement levels can help teachers recognize when they may need a new teaching strategy, and it helps track students’ progress over time.
What is Student Engagement?
When considering how to measure student engagement, it’s helpful to define it first. Student engagement can be divided into three types.
1. Behavioral engagement is the external signals and actions students display toward class material, such as asking questions or taking notes. These actions are outwardly noticeable, and scanning the class should allow you to see who is engaged behaviorally.
2. Emotional engagement is the attitude students bring into class. An emotionally secure student in the classroom will be more inclined to pay attention and engage with peers and the teacher during lessons. Emotional engagement is evidenced in the student’s interaction or lack thereof with peers and the teacher. They may appear “shut down” when they are disengaged.
3. Cognitive engagement is the student’s interest in their work and how much they seem to care about learning the material. A student who cares about their grades or has an attachment to the course material is likely actively engaged in daily lessons. Disengaged students may “redefine” assignments to their liking, disregarding the assigned subject matter.
Tips for Measuring Student Engagement
- Start journaling. You can’t measure what you don’t track. Making an effort to monitor your students’ engagement, and understanding how or why they engage, is key to their long-term success in school. Make a point to take notes at the end of each period or day on what appears to engage your students. How did they react to the subject matter? Did you try a new teaching strategy? Journaling allows teachers to gain insights into student engagement and spurs teachers and school leaders to discuss current and potential new strategies or teaching methods that could better engage students.
- Measure activity before class. Even before beginning a lesson, there are opportunities to measure students’ engagement in their preparation. Observe their behavior as they enter the classroom and before any teaching begins. Are they proactive in having all supplies or materials ready? Did anything happen before students arrived that may impact learning?
- Poll your students. Whether through surveys, small focus groups, or everyday conversations, an essential element of measuring your students’ engagement is asking them the right questions. The more you know about how students engage in their learning through verbal or written answers and their observable reactions over time, the more you can help nurture and guide that engagement.
- Regarding measuring their behavioral engagement, questions should aim to have students reflect on what motivates them to participate in class or extracurricular activities.
- Students’ emotional engagement can be approached by asking how they feel about their peer relationships and school. Instead of focusing on what they know, ask students how they feel about coming to school, what’s being taught, their workload, and the effort they’re putting forth. Having students consider their feelings helps teachers track their emotional engagement toward different aspects of school or may uncover ways classroom engagement is affected by outside influences or family circumstances.
- For insights into their cognitive engagement, your inquiries and observations should attempt to gain insight into how and whether students think their coursework has any future relevance in their life.
- Get insight with non-graded quizzes. You can measure students’ engagement by seeing how much knowledge they retain after the lesson ends. Incorporating a quick pop quiz or gamifying the end of a lesson with points for participation are easy ways to get immediate feedback on how students engaged with the material and teaching.
- Chart it. Use your class seating chart to make a note of and track your students’ engagement. For example, If they are late, you might put a “T” for tardy on their chart space. Create and maintain a legend, so you have a quick reference for marking the behavior you notice.
- Compare ratings. Create a set of ratings to measure engagement. Using a Likert scale at the end of a lesson or set of lessons, ask students to rate their perceptions of their engagement. Look for common areas where you can improve and enrich their experiences.
No matter what grade you teach or your students’ engagement levels, Avanti strives to create the best classroom experiences for engaged and successful students and teachers. Avanti helps educators learn proven strategies to suit classroom needs and improve student engagement with more than 300 on-demand videos and resources focused on your growth as a teacher. Register for a free one-week trial today to get started.