Students of all ages will undoubtedly suffer from a drop-off in engagement levels, it’s natural. Refocusing attention and keeping engagement levels as high as possible for as long a period as possible will be one of the crucial factors in helping students better understand and enjoy your classes and lectures.
To help you raise the level of engagement we have put together a series of best practices that aim to enthrall students and improve retention levels. We have, likewise, included a series of resources that you can quickly download and use so that you need not spend any extra time scouring the internet for useful content.
So let’s get started!
No matter what time of the day it happens to be (though we all know mornings are the toughest), jumping right into a lesson or lecture is rarely easy. Students take time to settle in and focus on what is going on. Kicking off with a warm-up activity can help to get everyone engaged and focused from the very start.
Icebreakers of any kind can be the perfect way of doing this as they are time efficient while also offering you the opportunity to ask any type of question. Perhaps you want to ask something about the students, their day, their lives, or their passions. You can also enquire about what they want to direct their attention to in future lessons, what they thought about the last lesson, or what one thing they found most interesting about this subject.
For more ideas and inspiration on what icebreakers you can ask we have a wide array of some of our favorites.
Technology can be a nightmare for educators if it’s not leveraged in the right way. If you find that smartphones are distracting your students, maybe it’s time to incorporate them as part of your lesson plan. While pen and paper may have been the go-to way of note-taking for decades, many students find it easier and more efficient to type things on their laptops or tablet. Some may even record lessons so they won’t miss a single word.
Technology is a key component in education and it will only become more engrained in the culture of education as advancements in edtech and other related software continue. Making apps, software, and online tools a part of both your classes and lectures, as well as a resource for students to access will not only help to improve their in-class experience but also their ability to study after the fact. Students of every age engage with technology more than ever before, so it only makes sense that if you want to improve engagement levels technology must be made use of.
No, don’t worry we are not saying you need to set a mid-term style paper every other week. What we are suggesting is more quick hitter assessment quizzes. Not just asking students more than if they understand what is going on, but actively quizzing them to see if they have been paying attention and they are retaining the information. Running a quick two-question quiz following a particular complex problem or subject can help you see if the message is getting across, or if you need to go back and clarify something that is causing confusion.
Knowledge tests don’t have to be boring or stressful for your students. Instead of a paper and pen and test, try using an interactive way of quizzing students that will be quick and easy to set up and run.
Engage your students through self-assessment activities such as formative assessments. Teachers and lecturers don’t need to be the only people to provide students with feedback, they can also assess their abilities.
Likewise, self-paced learning can be a way to help remove a common point of frustration for many students; time. Trying to understand complex topics or remember a series of facts and figures can become incredibly irritating when asked to do so in a certain amount of time. Fewer frustrated students mean a more engaged and enthusiastic audience.
Brainstorming will help students to think creatively and collaborate with their peers. Asking them to come up with their ideas and thoughts on a subject can be a good way to check their understanding of a subject. Thus they not only are required to think creatively but also critically. Thinking in this more complex manner will help to engage students as it will require them to focus and take their time over their responses.
Brainstorming can also be an optimal way to promote a collaborative work and study environment. Offering feedback rather than criticism on others’ ideas will help to promote a sense of group effort and develop feedback and teamwork skills. Collaborating and taking the time to listen to a range of other ideas and suggestions will also help to promote a more engaging learning environment.
Making room for discussion in the classroom can be a great way to engage your students in the classroom. Using open-ended and a way to poll students to collect opinions can spark a lively debate. Enabling your students to discuss something they have an opinion about, or are even passionate about will encourage them to participate in the class.
Working in groups will also remove the fear level that comes with standing up in front of a larger group and expressing one’s thoughts. This can be daunting for many but doing so as part of a smaller group is a much more manageable task. A willing group member can speak up on behalf of the group further eliminating the fear of public speaking for many. Students who would not normally feel comfortable partaking in his type of activity can thus become more active participants resulting in a more engaged group as a whole.
Engage your students differently with a reflection session. A reflection is an important tool for learning and improving. Students can look back and see what they have learned, where they have excelled, what they still need to improve upon, and what their ultimate goal is.
Offering students the opportunity to do this can help them regain focus and a sense of perspective. In turn, this can lead to higher levels of engagement as they will understand better the context for each lesson as well as the work that is required of them.
It is completely natural that students will loose engagement or concentration during the course of both a day, a class, and a lecture. Their ability to concentrate and focus will only last so long. Naturally enough we are then confronted with the question ‘|What then do we do during this “dead time”?
Use it to your advantage and allow them a few moments to reset and get that lack of concentration out of their system. For many simply turning to talk to their friends for a few minutes will help to refocus while others would benefit from a bathroom break or a quick blast of fresh air.
The benefit of this is two-fold: students will be able to take a more active part in their education while you can better understand what triggers them, what they enjoy, and what they dislike about your classes. If students enjoy a particular way of teaching and they find it easier to retain information because of it then it is best you find out what specifically it is. If there is something that causes them to switch off and daydream you had better gather feedback as to what is causing it and why!
We mentioned before about giving students the chance to take a moment to reset before diving right back into the action. Adding in some fun and quirky elements can be a welcome way of doing this
Furthermore, it can be particularly difficult to engage students when tackling “boring” or difficult topics. However, you can help encourage engagement by creating fun activities that will make these activities more exciting.
So there we have it, 10 ways you can engage our students and make their experience more engaging and captivating. Thankfully there are plenty of tools, as well as these tips, that can help you increase engagement levels. Mentimeter has been proven to do just that so using our online presentation tool alongside the steps mentioned above will help to transform your classes.