Why Focus on Student Engagement?
The research findings are unequivocal. Student learning, persistence, and attainment in college are strongly associated with student engagement. The more actively engaged students are—with college faculty and staff, with other students, with the subject matter they are studying—the more likely they are to persist in their college studies and to achieve at higher levels. This connection has been emphasized in a number of major studies and reports on the undergraduate experience, including the following:
- Involvement in Learning, a 1984 report sponsored by the National Institute of Education, clearly states "two fundamental principles about the conditions of educational excellence everywhere."
- The amount of student learning and personal development associated with any educational program is directly proportional to the quality and quantity of student involvement in that program.
- The effectiveness of any educational policy or practice is directly related to the capacity of that policy or practice to increase student involvement in learning (p. 19).
- In "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" (1987), Chickering and Gamson provide this oft-quoted guidance:
Good practice in undergraduate education
- Encourages student-faculty contact
- Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
- Encourages active learning
- Gives prompt feedback
- Emphasizes time on task
- Communicates high expectations
- Respects diverse talents and ways of knowing
- In How College Affects Students (1991), Pascarella and Terenzini affirm from their examination of 20 years of research that "students who are actively involved in both academic and out-of-class activities gain more from the college experience than those who are not so involved."
- In Leaving College (1993), Tinto summarizes available evidence:
Simply put, the same forces of contact and involvement that influence persistence also appear to shape student learning. Though the research is far from complete, it is apparent that the more students are involved in the social and intellectual life of a college, the more frequently they make contact with faculty and other students about learning issues, especially outside the class, the more students are likely to learn (p. 69).
Student Engagement. Center for Community College Student Engagement. 2003-2012. The University of Texas at Austin. http://www.ccsse.org/center/about_cccse/focus.cfm