As an educator, there’s nothing worse than realizing that your students haven’t engaged during a lecture. Lack of engagement can cause a lot of different issues for educators and students alike, including failed exams, missed deadlines and an overall feeling of defeat. Therefore, it is important to take steps that make sure your students engage with you, but this is easier said than done. It often seems as if there are so many distractions in the classroom, but there are some tried and tested methods to eliminate these.
As a teacher, it is your responsibility to present engaging content to your students. If your lecture isn’t engaging from the start, there is no way that you can expect your students to stay engaged. Instead, create exciting content and presentations for your class, and even ask for anonymous feedback to rate your lectures to make sure that you’re making a positive impact.
One of the biggest distractions that educators face today is technology, usually in the form of a smartphone. Instead of letting smartphones become a distraction in your lecture hall, how about making them a central part of the learning process? One example of doing this is by using tools such as Mentimeter to engage your students with interactive presentations, where they can use their smartphones to answer questions during the lecture. This will stop students getting distracted by their smartphones, and instead use technology to engage them in a new and refreshing way.
At the start of each lecture, explain to your students why they are there. Perhaps the topic you are going to cover will come up on the end of year exam, or it is an area that future employers consider important. By adding a “why” to your lecture you can give students some perspective and remind them how important it is to stay alert and engaged throughout the session. This will also help you as an educator to create structured, straight to the point lectures that will help students to reach their educational goals.
No one likes listening to someone drone-on for an hour, so don't be that boring lecturer. Add some humor to your lecture to break up the content, particularly if you are dealing with complicated topics. This will help your students to feel more relaxed in the classroom; this will encourage engagement.
We have already discussed that interesting content is essential for keeping students engaged. One great way to improve your content is to understand what interests your students. For example, they might love Game of Thrones or have a particular interest in sports. You can use this information to create relevant lectures whilst establishing a positive student-teacher relationship. By adding something familiar to them, this can be particularly useful when tackling hard-to-understand topics that students may have trouble engaging with.
Great leaders and inspirational figures are excellent public speakers. The way they talk, and their presence when they are in the room is enough to make people want to listen to them. Luckily, public speaking is something you can learn. Consider joining a Toastmasters group or learning more about how to improve your public speaking. This will help you to keep your students engaged.
At the end of your lecture, you can measure the levels of engagement by asking your students for some reflections from the session. This will not only help you understand how and if your students are engaging (after all, you can’t improve what you don’t measure), but your students will be able to test their own knowledge. Use our Lecture engagment evaluation template.
Try to understand what they already know so that you can create lectures that fit their needs. At the start of the school year, consider asking your students about their expectations. This will also give you the chance to voice what your expectations of them are. Establishing clear communication between you and your students will help you to understand their needs and expectations which will help you to understand how you can keep them engaged.
Engagement isn’t anything you can demand from your students, but something you need to work with them together to achieve with them. Great content, communication, and interactivity are the core parts of getting your students to engage not only during a lecture, but for the whole semester!