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Student Engagement in Class: Increasing Learning and Persistence. Linda B. Nilson, Ph.D. Director, Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation Clemson University, 445 Brackett Hall, Clemson, SC 29634 USA 864.656.4542 * *

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student engagement in class increasing learning and persistence
Student Engagement in Class: IncreasingLearning and Persistence

Linda B. Nilson,Ph.D.

Director, Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation

Clemson University, 445 Brackett Hall, Clemson, SC 29634 USA

864.656.4542 * *

Developed for Innovative Educators

participant outcomes
Participant Outcomes
  • By the end of this webinar, you will be able to plan and manage your classes to gain and maintain your students’ attention and engagement, thereby enhancing their motivation, learning, retentionof the material, and persistence in college. The engagement techniques reviewed here will also enhance students’ satisfaction with your course and your teaching.
how do you decide what to do in class
How do you decide what to do in class ?
  • By your student learning outcomes =what you want your students to be able to do by the end of the class or week.
  • Activities & Assignments (in-class, homework) = Their Learning Experiences = Your Teaching Methods

Choose the best tools (methods) for the job (outcomes).

lecture when you want to
Lecture when you want to:
  • Pique students’ curiosity, inspire, motivate
  • Model style of thinking, problem solving
  • Give unique organization to the material
  • Adapt high-level material to students’ level
  • Add your own viewpoint or related research
  • Present background summary or up-to-date material not currently available in print
lecture is in effective when you want students to be able to
Lecture is ineffective when you want students to be able to:
  • Examine and possibly change attitudes
  • Explore controversial or ambiguous material
  • Transfer knowledge to new situations
  • Develop critical thinking or problem-solving
  • Develop/improve writing or speaking skills
  • Learn performance or procedural techniques
  • Retain knowledge or pursue more after course
do not lecture the readings
Do NOT lecture the readings!
  • If you do, students won’t even try to do the readings.
  • Rather hold students accountable for the readings

Better learning and retention

common ways to engage students in class
Common Ways to Engage Students in Class
  • Dynamic and Interactive (Student-Active) Lecture
  • Group Work/Cooperative (Collaborative) Learning
  • Discussion (Recitation)
challenge of the lecture
Challenge of the Lecture

Students’ attention span = 10-20 minutes at one time, depending on:

  • student’s prior interest (given)
  • lecture delivery
  • draw of content
1 delivery to get and keep students attention
1. Delivery to Get and Keep Students’ Attention

Energy, animation, humor, drama +

Stories, anecdotes, examples +

Good public speaking skills =

Dynamism and Charisma

lecture delivery elements
Lecture Delivery - Elements
  • Voice
  • Body language/gestures
  • Language
  • Instructional organization
  • Emotions projected
  • Appearance/dress
  • Preparation & rehearsal
pre class exercises to your dynamism and charisma
Pre-Class Exercises to ↑ Your Dynamism and Charisma

To make yourself “larger,” looser, more relaxed

  • Breathe slowly and deeply from diaphragm 3-4 times.
  • Stretch in every direction while standing.
  • Send energy into your outstretched hands.
pre class exercises continued
Pre-class exercises continued

To increase your vocal variety, richness, projection

  • Sing scales.
  • Alternate high and low pitches (Q&A).
  • Read children’s books aloud.
2 increase draw of content
2. Increase Draw of Content
  • Simple vocabulary; new terms and symbols defined
  • Concise explanations, but rephrased and elaborated
  • No side-tracks (w/o explanation)
  • Pauses for comprehension, note-taking
  • All elements in graphics, demo’s explained
  • Examples (many) tied back to concepts
draw of content continued
Draw of Content continued
  • Inject drama, surprise, and suspense with humor, exaggeration, unexpected results, amazing facts, intriguing anecdotes and examples, case studies, paradoxes, and puzzles
  • Inject own viewpoint and background
  • Inject cultural aspects of material and discipline
  • Inject student-active breaks
add activities that engage students
Add Activities That Engage Students
  • Interactive (Student-Active) Lecture
  • Group Work
  • Recitation and Discussion
interactive lecture
Interactive Lecture
  • Lecture with student-active breaks = short student activities (2-10 minutes) every 10-20 minutes
    • Compensates for short attention spans
    • Increases class attendance, learning, and retention
    • Raises your student ratings
Poll: How many of you already lecture interactively?
  • Almost every class
  • Some classes
  • A few classes
  • Never have
student active breaks
Student-Active Breaks

Select/design activities to meet 2 objectives:

Students apply/use content you’ve been lecturing about; get practice performing your learning outcomes.

You find out how well/much they understand (classroom assessment).

possible student active breaks
Possible Student-Active Breaks
  • Lecture note review, fill in, elaboration
  • Above in pairs
  • Periodic writing of most important point(s), with pair or group sharing
  • Multiple choice question (conceptual)
  • Problem to solve (indiv, pair, group)
  • Quick case study (indiv, pair, group)
  • Discuss open-ended question (pair, group)
  • List examples of key concept
Reach consensus on a difficult or complex question or issue (pair, group)
  • Worksheet/exercise (indiv, pair, group)
  • Concept map, graphic organizer, matrix of lecture material (indiv, pair, group)
  • Question for future test (indiv, pair, group)
  • One-sentence (or longer) summary of lecture
  • CATS: muddiest point, one-minute paper
  • Reaction/reflection paragraph
informal ad hoc groups
Informal (ad hoc) Groups
  • Great for student-active lecture breaks
  • Set up on the fly with neighbors
  • Pairs or small groups of 3 or 4
  • Short-term – for class period, exercise
  • No peer evaluation or other feedback
  • Easy for instructor, except must hold groups accountable
challenging tasks
Challenging Tasks
  • Task beyond what students have learned

Must require synergy to perform.

  • Specific task with written product to be group-signed and submitted
  • Tight time limit requiring focus
  • Call on groups and their members randomly (for individual accountability).
learning outcomes recitation serves well
Learning Outcomes Recitation Serves Well
  • Recalling and restating knowledge, terms, and facts
  • Demonstrating understanding by expressing in own words
  • Speaking the language of the discipline
  • Practice/drill through repetition
learning outcomes discussion serves well
Learning Outcomes Discussion Serves Well
  • Developing higher-order/critical thinking skills
  • Developing problem-solving skills (e.g., case debriefing)
  • Exploring controversial/ambiguous material
  • Examining, possibly changing attitudes/beliefs (mind-broadening)
  • Transferring knowledge to new situations
  • Developing motivation to learn more
answer one of these questions in a pod 1 what problems arise for you during a discussion
Answer one of these questions in a pod.1. What problems arise for you during a discussion?

2. Why do you think some students don’t participate?

3. What obstacles to participation can we as instructors remove?

4. What do the questions posed thus far have in common?

types of questions
Types of Questions
  • 1 right answer
    • “Quiz Show”: Y/N, 1-3 words
    • “Programmed Answer”: longer

OK for recitation and test-review games (e.g., Jeopardy, Millionaire)

  • No clear right answer – “Fuzzy”
  • Multiple respectable answers
    • Best for discussion
types of high response questions
Types of High-ResponseQuestions
  • Interpretation: high-level comprehension
  • NovelApplication: far-transfer knowledge
  • Analysis: compare/contrast; identify assumptions; deduce implications
  • Synthesis: make connections, identify relationships
  • Evaluation: assess validity; select & defend
eliciting broad active and respectful participation
Eliciting Broad, Active, and Respectful Participation
  • Combat shyness, break down social barriers.
  • Motivate students to prepare to participate.
  • Warm up students’ minds to subject matter.
  • Provide “security blankets.”
  • Moderate to keep the ball rolling.
  • Motivate students to pay attention.
  • Control disruptive students.
Which of the following concrete actions have you been taking?
  • Which of the following actions would you be able to take and would like to take in the future?