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  1. The nature of student engagement and why it matters so much. Colin Bryson

  2. Enhancing engagement Stronger student engagement enhances • Student learning • Achievement • Retention and persistence • Students having a positive experience in HE • Our fulfilment and enjoyment as staff! Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  3. Conceptions of engagement – the NSSE • Measuring engagement • A focus in USA on active classroom behaviours - (National Student Survey on Engagement) – George Kuh • Survey used very widely • Over 50 publications • Proxy for quality Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  4. Australian perspectives • Williams’ index (1982) • Focus on first year experience – big surveys in 1994, 1999 and 2004 • Connectedness (McInnis, 1995) • Negotiated engagement (McInnis, 2001) Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  5. Similar concepts to engagement • Belonging (Kember et al, 2001) • Academic and social integration (Tinto, 1993) • Involvement (Tinto, 2006) Strong links to research inter alia on retention, persistence, transition…. Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  6. Theoretical perspectives • social cognition (Webber, 2004) • identity – ‘student selves’ (Horstmanoff and Zimitat, 2003) • social constructivism Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  7. Mann (2001) alienating forces • Performativity • Culture shock – “outsiders in a foreign land”…other • Exercise of disciplinary power • Disempowerment – Marxian ‘exile from the self’ Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  8. Our take on engagement • Engagement is a concept which encompasses the perceptions, expectations and experience of being a student and the construction of being a student in HE. • Engagement underpins learning and is the glue that binds it together – both located in being and becoming. • Strong link to intellectual development (Perry, 1970/1999: Baxter Magolda, 1992) Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  9. Conceptual models of SE • Multi-dimensioned engagement (Krause and Coates, 2008) • A relational model (Solomonides and Reid (2008) Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  10. Sense of Being a Professional Reid and Davies 2002 Reid and Petocz 2004 ? Sense of Discipline Knowledge Dahlgren et al 2005 Abrandt Dahlgren et al 2007 Sense of Being Confidence Happiness Imaginative Self Knowledge Barnett 2004, 2005, 2007 Sense of Transformation Learning Understanding Thinking Dall’Alba and Barnacle 2007 ? Sense of Engagement Bryson and Hand 2008 Coates 2006 ? Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  11. But SE cannot easily be reduced to such a model • Multi-faceted and complex – dimensions, levels, dynamic and fluid (Bryson and Hand, 2007) • Every student is an individual and different (Haggis, 2004) Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  12. The Student view • Drawn from a study about their experience as students • 10 focus groups of Nottingham Business School students • Original research question was not about engagement! Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  13. Student engagement: Poor • I do almost little or no work with modules, I don’t like – I know you’re supposed to do but I find it really hard to motivate myself – when you’re sat at home and you’ve got what you don’t like doing, you’re not going to do it. [first year student] • When you’ve got a subject that you’re not particularly interested in to begin you then why go to a seminar on the lecture which is so boring… just take the notes off the VLE [first year student] • My first year was an absolute joke, I just didn’t go in enough, I didn’t do any work. I just didn’t go in and I missed everything you needed to know. [second year student] Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  14. Student engagement: False • We don’t actually get taught how to manage, how to actually do the jobs we are going to be doing, just the academic stuff. [second year student] • Everyone’s like … the mark is important …. well academic wise its not about what I’ve learnt anyway it’s all about what I get [final year student]. • The joyless slog [final year student]. Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  15. Student engagement: Staff • …it’s definitely the lecturer that can really make it interesting or can almost destroy a subject. [first year student] • They just like doing their thing, they go through what they’re going to do, it’s not really interesting, they’re not actually getting your attention. [second year student] Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  16. Student engagement: Relationships • … (but at university) lecturers or seminar tutors don’t take the time to know you at all, you’re just another number to them ….. that hits you a bit in the first year, so you think why go in, this teacher doesn’t care [second year student] • Like I sent her an email cause I couldn’t go to her thing, but she was so nasty back [second year student] Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  17. Key influences on engagement • Student expectations and perceptions • Balances between challenge and appropriate workload • Degrees of choice, autonomy, risk, and opportunities for growth and enjoyment • Trust relationships • Communication and discourse Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  18. The staff perspective on engagement • A survey of NTU staff • Followed by case studies in NBS • Represented a range of experience and role • In-depth interviews • Backed up by discussions with learning and teaching coordinators in other subjects and other universities. Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  19. Emergent themes from staff 1 • Strong emotional involvement in role – want to work with engaged students • Shared beliefs broadly similar with engagement agenda • Relationships with students are important but strong element of the teacher being in charge • Students should take more responsibility for their own engagement. Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  20. Emergent themes from staff 2 • Tend to begin each year in optimistic mode but then rapidly become disappointed as staff expectations were lowered by the students’ lack of engagement. • Staff lack confidence to deploy strategies to deal with less engaged students. Tendency to conform to ‘norms’ • Staff felt constrained and disempowered by excessive workload, not having enough time, unsupportive management and excessive class sizes – which overwhelmed any belief that they could make a difference. Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  21. Conceptions of engagement • Staff hold a different conception than students – they desire all students to reach a plane of learning which demonstrates critical understanding, reflection and autonomy • Unsurprisingly they are disappointed Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  22. The latest research • A longitudinal study of students throughout their degrees • Examining engagement, expectations, transitions and intellectual development • Emphasis on context and changing perspective – focus on the individual • As well as trying out practices and policies…transition projects etc. Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  23. A whole new body of literature and ideas…. Analysis rather emergent Writing up the first three interviews About to do the fourth… Produced interim conference papers – host of issues from this rich evidence Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  24. Expectations • Students ambitious and keen to do well • But very vague about academic issues – classes and assessment – different but not sure how • Intended to work really hard, do whatever was necessary • Appeared ready and willing to be engaged Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  25. Social and academic integration • Social transition really important – had made friends but not formed relationships with staff…or into the community of practice of discipline • Academic integration rather minimal – getting by, passing but…. • So some indicators of engagement but not the sort of strong engagement required for intellectual development Glasgow seminar, March 2009

  26. Practice and Policy • Curriculum design – content AND process • Delivery • Student involvement and empowerment – the student voice • Induction and transition • Assessment • Staff development • Strategic level - Glasgow seminar, March 2009