Teaching online is already quite tough. On top of it, ensuring that there is significant student engagement is even harder. Over the course of years, educationists and psychologists came together to devise solutions for this. Thankfully, now educators - online and offline - have a wide variety of active student engagement strategies to help them out.
Ranging from flipped-classroom models to scaffolding, these strategies promise to reel back in the wavering student attention. Especially in the COVID world, such tips and tricks prove essential for meaningful online learning.
A 2021 study published in the Sustainability journal on the 'relations of teaching strategies and student engagement' found that besides significantly improving student performance, the use of active student engagement strategies also contributes positively to teacher's self-concept of teaching. This means that instructors also have a better understanding of their effort and are better able to gauge their courses.
With ranting baby further, let's dive straight into the list of engagement strategies I have curated for you stressed-out online instructors.
👀 READ ALSO: 10 COLLABORATIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES FOR ONLINE TEACHERS.
List of Top Student Engagement Strategies
It's quite likely that you are familiar with the term 'peer review'. However, not necessarily in the context of an engagement strategy. Peer review is more commonly understood as consultation on a topic or project from like-minded individuals. Especially in academia. Similarly, peer review in learning means taking constructive feedback from peers/colleagues/fellow classmates and working along with them to complete tasks.
The advantage of such a strategy is that it takes off some burden from the instructor. Students collaborate together to assist each other so the instructor doesn't have to invest excessively. As a result, instructors can contribute that energy elsewhere and improve the class experience even more.
Teachfloor is a great platform for peer review. The space has specially curated itself for peer review. Instructors and students can schedule their review sessions, view, and comment on each other's work. Meanwhile, the instructor also has the authority to keep an eye on their activities and be a part of them.
Flipped Classroom Model
Flipped classroom model is one of the most practiced engagement strategies. The crux of the model is to provide learners with text or learning materials which they assess on their own and later meet for a discussion session to talk about their thoughts. The technique has proved to be immensely successful with students with 94% of the users claiming that it is better at fulfilling the stated learning objective.
...a pedagogical approach where students first explore new course content outside of class by viewing a pre-recorded lecture video or digital module or completing a reading or preparatory assignment. In-class time is organized around student engagement, inquiry, and assessment, allowing students to grapple with, apply and elaborate on course concepts.
Berkeley Centre of Teaching and Learning
Personally, I find this technique the perfect solution to making sure you finish all the core syllabus while ensuring student interest. Not only do students get to learn at their own pace but they also get to engage in a cohort. Moreover, the content can be easily customized with this model.
The discussion board is another effective strategy. Matter of fact, it is perfect for shy and quiet students who reportedly perform better during online chat discussions. An online discussion board is like a chat thread focusing on a specific topic. Participants come together and leave their comments underneath and give feedback.
One would assume that this must minimize the role of the instructor. That is very wrong! One can turn it up by adding little twists like a scavenger hunt. Here the teacher leaves clues and students have to sleuth the learning material to find the answer. Makes learning both interactive and fun. For the purpose of class evaluation, teachers can also make these discussion boards graded or ungraded.
To your life easier, Teachfloor provides the feature of discussion boards as well. Thus ensuring that you can easily manage your discussion threads and online classes simultaneously from one place for the price of one platform. Such a bargain to be honest!
Most of us remember this from our school days. Remember when our teachers would make us sit in pairs for our tasks? That's exactly what this is, only online. This method provides a mate to every student and makes them work alongside. Not only do they support each other through the way, but this tactic also teaches students to co-exist with others. Unlike bigger group exercises, it is more intimate and hence more effective in building student bonds.
As the name suggests, quick writes is the practice of encouraging students to jot down their confusions, comments, questions, etc quickly as they go through the session and then ask the at the end. This exercise demands that students pay attention to the details so they may be able to make notes on them. Consequently, they take notice of the contents of the session more and are better able to evaluate them as well. A perfect quick strategy for improving critical thinking.
Project-based learning is a hot strategy amongst online technical courses e.g coding bootcamps and graphic design, etc. In this method, students are assigned a project work on which they have to work independently or in groups. It demands the students to utilize all their learning and come up with a project. Such a strategy is great for young professionals who are learning as it allows them to contribute to their portfolios. A perfect blend of formal learning and practical application.
Simulations are a lessor known strategy for improving student presentation skills. By making use of games and role-plays instructors can break down big boring concepts into fun sessions. Teachers can either set up the situations or give the freedom to the students to come up with one according to the topics. Simulations work great with younger audiences.
However, they can be a little tricky to execute online. iSpring Suite Max and BranchTrack are some of the top software for simulations for eLearning.
Affinity mapping is perfect for fostering collaborative learning. Students are posed a situation and then asked to write on them. For example, a situation can be 'how different would our lives be if the computer was never invented?' and then they would try to answer the scenario in a series. Then students will group together with their similar ideas into categories and discuss why the particular idea fits into its category. They will also compare and contrast their points and come up with supporting claims. This tactic will help improve students' critical thinking skills and help them master the art of organizing their thoughts.
This three-step activity is also a great way of improving critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Here, the instructor provides the students with a topic of a thought-provoking scenario and then ask them to a) evaluate the situation i.e. isolate the key issue, b) diagnose it i.e. find out the main reason behind the issue, c) act i.e. devise a solution or action for the problem.
To sum up the contents of this article, I laid down the top 9 student engagement strategies that will for sure get your students to focus more during online classes. So, whether you are a teacher struggling to make your courses fun or whether you are a student looking for some extra tips to improve your performance in class, these strategies have something for all of you. Make sure to give them a try!