Series: How can schools keep learners more engaged?

Welcome to the engage2learn Leading Learners blog series! We asked students across the state of Texas to write blogs about improving education. For their first assignment, they tackled the topic, “How can schools keep learners more engaged?” 

Hear what Kilgore ISD student Anushka has to say about her experience in school, and how it can be improved. 

“Humans are curious by nature.” (Aristotle)

Engagement refers to one being committed, involved, and invested in the task they sought to conquer. The opposite of ignorance, negligence, and the lack of pursuit.

Engagement in learning leads to success in education and further achievements in life. But the question remains: How do we get students to become more engaged? Is it the way they are approached to learning, their motivations, or a lack of opportunities?

The challenge for teachers is getting their students interested in learning the material, and to do the work. In contrast, the students have to be willing to endure the demands of their education, avert getting bored, and trying to prosper in school.

“Meaningful Click To Tweet

Learning that lasts is a chain reaction of studying, generating, and correcting in a continuum. These usually include homework, exams, projects, discussions, reading, or writing materials. Academic work usually falls within borders of traditional subjects such as mathematics, science, English, and language.

A more effective concept would be to try and master a certain field within the student’s interest such as dance, computer, art, or even cosmetology. Student engagement should be defined as an investment in their learning and mastering skills and the crafts in order to apply them to their lives. What it should not be is a series of tasks given in order to get a grade as a form of critique and social approval.

Motivation is one’s desire to achieve a goal. A paper released by the CEP suggests that many students are unmotivated. A student’s motivation in school can be affected by many factors, including one’s social and cultural background, the environment, and peers. Culture is the learned multitude of values, language, beliefs, and behaviors.

“No learning situation is culturally neutral.”

For some students, success in school can be a general desire to succeed in areas concerning their grades and academic work. To others, it can be to prosper in sports and areas such as the fine arts. A research done by Roland Fryer shows that those rewarded by the school for accomplishments in certain skills such as reading or solving problems are more effective compared to students who are compensated for reaching a certain level of performance on a test. It comes down to the need to find the relevance of their learning while feeling respected and connected to others.

High school graduation rates have improved in the United States, although students from low-income families continue to perform significantly lower on assessments of mathematics and literacy achievement than those from high-income families.

One’s given opportunities can affect what they achieve. Through participation in fine arts or sports, a student can express themselves and their talent. The problem is many do not get the chance to do so. Indeed, all public schools have some sort of extracurricular activities available, but only a small percentage of students have access to academic clubs or other hobbies. Limited resources and equipment lead to lack of interest in most students as they cannot practice their skill on a day to day basis.

In conclusion, student engagement cannot be forced. The student has to have the desire to do the given task. Student achievement depends on the way they are taught, their goals, achievement, and the extent of opportunities available. Student engagement can lead to success in life if learning is relevant and can be internalized into students’ daily lives.

“To increase student engagement and ownership of learning, we should give students opportunities to do meaningful work-work that makes a difference locally, nationally, and globally.” -Eric Williams


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