How do we know students are engaged in their learning? Do we need sophisticated tools to tell us that students are engaged? Or can we look at the dynamics of the classroom and get a pretty good idea?
When I visit schools I poke my head into classrooms. Sometimes I am asked to sit down and give some feedback at the end of the day. What did I see with an outsiders’ eyes? I don’t have a formal rubric, but here are some pretty good questions and indicators, IMHO, of student engagement:
- Are students working with peers?
- Are students part of an active discussion?
- Do students make choices about how to approach their work?
- Are students asking questions?
- Are students making their learning visible to others?
- Are students welded to their seats or encouraged to move around?
- Are students having any fun?
- Are students using technology in ways the force them to seek, find, and synthesize content?
- And perhaps the easiest to assess: Look at student faces. Are they bright and attentive or dull, bored, or letting the learning wash over them?
What if your school came up with a really simple observation and feedback tool and asked every member of the faculty to visit another classroom for three minutes each day and provide that observation feedback to their colleagues? What if you observed and modeled student engagement along the lines of the video I shared yesterday from Design 39 Campus (and so many other schools!).
Is student engagement a direct indicator of student performance? Probably not. But it sure is an important component, and I think one of the easiest to see and fix. And I don’t think it takes an advanced degree in education to understand if students are engaged in their learning.