Engaging students with one another and with course content increases the likelihood of achieving learning outcomes. Make plans to engage students, whether they are in person, physically distant, or virtually distant. Here, we have prepared engagement strategy suggestions and resources to get you started.
- Use Collaborative Teams. Assign partners or teams of students in the classroom to discuss a topic, solve a problem, or complete a task. Alternatively, students can “talk” through texts on Microsoft Teams or through a shared Google document.
- Solicit Individual Responses. Pause during lecture to ask a question, administer a poll, or direct students to identify the three things they have learned so far from the lecture.
- Prompt Individual Reflection. Give students time to think and reflect. Consider calling on students after this time ends or having them submit their work.
- Assess Understanding. Pose several questions based upon lesson content and have students write their responses. Students can turn these in at the end of class. Instructors may also ask for some students to share a selection of responses or summary of their responses with the whole class.
- Strengthen Understanding. Use an online drawing tool to have students work collaboratively in real-time to add and/or create a concept map in order to help connect ideas.
- Make Regular Announcements. Regular (weekly) announcements help keep students engaged with the progression of the course. These announcements can provide a summary of how things went in the previous week, preview what to look forward to in the coming week(s), and share any tips and tricks to help students navigate the course going forward. Sporadic announcements can also be used to engage students. These can be used for special information such as informing students of opportunities, celebrating milestones, or sharing a relevant news article.
- Connect as a Person. Part of being in a class is being in a community of learners. Students value the knowledge and experience provided by the instructor. Demonstrating your lived experiences regarding course content can help to make student learning seem more relevant. In online courses, and particularly in asynchronous courses, it is even more important for students and instructors to connect. Connecting at a personal level allows for strong collaboration on group projects and make it easier to give and receive feedback.
- Connect to the PSU Community. Students who are working at a distance, and likely more so those without a synchronous class schedule, value connections back to Penn State. Pointing out news from across the University and activities that can be accessed remotely provides connections back to Penn State and can help promote a feeling of being part of the Penn State community.
Engaging students in your course – Top 5
- Best Practices for Engaging Students, list of considerations and tools based on faculty interviews.
- Getting to know your students is an IST resource with suggestions for students to get to know you, you to get to know your students, and students get to know each other, paving the way for further student engagement.
- Strategies for Creating Engaging Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning Environments offers ideas for inserting student interaction into course sessions.
- Harvard Activity Database offers multiple approaches to in-class activities and assignments categorically organized.
- Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence curates resources from a variety of sources on numerous topic including student engagement.
Engaging students in their studies
- Virtual Study Groups: Guidance for Faculty highlights the importance of student collaborative learning and includes study group considerations, technical how-to’s for setting up group spaces, and additional resources. While this resource was written during the pandemic, the value of engaging students in student groups remains high.
- Student Resources provides links to resources and programs aimed at assisting students with their studies–including tutoring, study groups, technology resources, and more.
- Office365: https://office365.psu.edu/
- Google docs and G Suite for Education at Penn State: https://gsuite.psu.edu/
- Piazza Q&A Platform: https://piazza.com/psu
- Yammer: https://yammer.psu.edu/
Student Engagement Webinars – Archive
- TLT’s ongoing Engaging Student Series offers a variety of ideas for how to engage students. Resources are available through a categorized archive.
- Engaging Students in a Multi-audience Classroom via Active Learning is a featured Engaging Student Series webinar available in the archive with recording and slides.