Engagement means students directing their attention and energy ‘in the moment’ towards a particular task or activity. Engagement is critical for learning. However, it is important to remember that engaged students are not necessarily learning, or learning what you are intending them to learn.
Engagement can be broken down into four interrelated types:
behavioural engagement— the amount of effort and involvementthe student is directing towards the activity in terms of attention, effort and persistence
emotional engagement— the presence of positive emotions, such as enjoyment, and the absence of negative emotions, such as anxiety, during task involvement
cognitive engagement— the sophistication of strategiesused by the student; for example using active strategiesfor understanding (such as elaboration and organisation) rather than superficial or more passive strategies (such as memorisation)
agentic engagement— the extent of the student’s proactive role in instruction; for example, in terms of expressing preferences and needs.
Engagement with learning is essential to academic progress. It is most likely to occur when students are motivated, interested, and socially interactive. It is also most often associated with other characteristics in students, such as self-regulation or self-directedness, conscientiousness, and drive. Student outcomes are affected by the extent to which students display all four aspects of engagement listed above; that is, to the extent that they exert effort, demonstrate enthusiasm, think strategically, and constructively contribute to learning plans.
There is a considerable body of evidence on engagement in education, including quantitative evidence determining the link between student engagement and learning. The evidence base is complicated as engagement is a multi-faceted concept, which is not only connected to a number of other aspects of students and learning but also impacted by context.
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