There are three types of student engagement: behavioral, emotional, and cognitive. All three are important to analyze and understand in order to help improve your instruction in the classroom.
We must accept that not all students are engaged at all times. However, it is important to keep everyone as engaged as possible. Engagement is key to making learning a success.
One way to measure student engagement in your classroom is through self-reporting. This is easy to administer, practical, and has a very low cost. This is a great way to assess students’ perceptions that may not be observable or necessarily align with compliance. This method can be used with large and diverse groups of students.
A great way to measure behavioral engagement is to ask your students questions about how much attention they had to use for a specific assignment, and how much effort it took. Ask about their levels of persistence and preparation for the class.
Emotional engagement can also be measured by asking your students specific questions. Align these to focus on the emotions they experienced at school, as well as with the specific task. What were their levels of enjoyment and/or boredom? Did they feel there was value in the time they spent on the assignment?
Next, we have cognitive engagement. Ask your students about the task design and content itself. What challenges did they face with the task? What about success?
Another great way to measure student engagement is to use a Likert Response Scale. Set this between 3-5 points, and consider using numeric ratings, word ratings, or even emoticons/emojis.
When you are acquiring feedback from your students, make the process easy for students to complete and administer these questions periodically. Remember that these are non-evaluative for students and that you are asking because you want honest answers. Fear of retribution can skew your data, so make your students aware that this is non-punitive.
Now that you have all of this data, where do you go from here?
Review the feedback with teaching stakeholders. Show aggregated data to your students and allow discussion and reflection. Be explicit when changing a practice or when making decisions based on feedback. Acknowledge when instructional design does not align with student feedback and explain why.
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