Six Things Faculty Can Do to Promote Student Engagement

Last week’s post encouraged us to reconsider what student engagement means and entails. Today I’d like to explore just some of the things teachers can do to better promote it. I’m offering six ideas here and encourage you to add to the list.
Redefine participation. Let it include more than verbal comments. Invite students to contribute electronically—with an email or post on the course website—with a question they didn’t ask in class, a comment they didn’t get to make, or a thought that came to them after class. Remind students that listening is also part of participation! Model and promote good listening skills. “Did you hear what Fredric just said? That’s an explanation that belongs in your notes.” Let the definition of participation honor silence—and give students the time needed to think about a question and assemble an answer. Maybe it’s time to stop grading participation and let students speak because they have something to say.
Cultivate a teacher presence that invites engagement. It starts with being present. This means not just being there physically but also being mentally attentive to what’s happening every day and in every interaction. An engaging teaching presence is communicated by nonverbal behaviors that convey confidence, comfort, anticipation, and great expectations. The classroom space, whether it’s physical or virtual, is one you share with fellow learners. Move about in …