When discussing various student engagement strategies for class, it’s important to understand how students’ attention span has changed over time.
The average student in 2022 has a significantly lower attention span than an average student did 10 or even 20 years ago. Based on various educational research, students nowadays can focus on one activity for about 10-18 minutes, 7-8 minutes, and even just 2 minutes in some cases.
Students’ attention can be lost within minutes, and knowing how to bring it back is a very useful skill.
The most challenging aspect of online learning is probably the isolation and lack of genuine human contact. It’s also easy to get distracted when you’re studying and listening to classes in the same room where you also sleep and eat.
Unlike interactive classrooms, where students can easily engage in conversations with one another, online classes have brought a new challenge: As a teacher, how can you keep students engaged and motivated to study?
Let’s talk through the best student engagement strategies to help students interact and feel more involved while taking classes.
1- Find a connection between learning and the real world
One of the most effective ways to help your students engage in class is to help them make a connection between the lessons they’re learning and real life. Show them how the information you learn will help them navigate their everyday lives.
Learning material will make much more sense to them, so it will be easier to participate in class and contribute to the conversation and discussions. Additionally, classes will be more interactive and will motivate the students to participate instead of being passive learners.
Try to give your students as many real-life examples as you can think of. You can also use personal anecdotes and case studies.
The point of this strategy is to help your students see the practicality of what they’re learning. Show them that what they’re learning isn’t just a bunch of useless information they will never get to use. Instead, help them find a way to understand their learning material in a more authentic way.
2- Engage with your student’s interest
Among many effective student engagement strategies, one that always works without fail involves finding your students’ interests.
If you want to engage your students in a class discussion, the best way to do so is to figure out what interests they have. Then, all you have to do is to build their interests into the learning process. This way, your students will feel like they can share their opinions and knowledge on the given matter.
For instance, if you’re teaching students about art and you find out that your students enjoy watching animated movies or anime, you can utilize various different animated videos in your class material to teach your students how animation comes to be created. Show them how the animation process works and use as many visual materials as possible.
3- Encourage collaboration and group work
The best way to encourage students to interact with one another and become more engaged during classes is to organize group work projects. Now, many students may shy away from this kind of teamwork. That is why it’s your job as a teacher or professor to make this task as pleasurable as possible.
Firstly, try to give your students adequate motivation to get interested in the task they’re supposed to work on. Whether that is a mutual interest amongst the group members or something else is up to you to decide.
Then, make sure they aren’t under too much pressure. Let them know that this task will help them understand the learning material better and that it’s meant to make the class more fun and interactive. They will benefit greatly from seeing each other’s unique perspectives and opinions on the matter at hand.
Also, make sure to group up your students based on who works well together. This will help you avoid some troublesome partnerships. On top of that, organizing groups of students who work well together will guarantee better class engagement.
4- Allow your students to have a say
Being upfront with your students sometimes can give great results too. When you struggle with keeping your students engaged, and none of the student engagement strategies you tried are working, you can let your students tell you what to do.
Here are a few useful things you can do to allow your students to have a say when it comes to organizing class activities:
- Allow your students to make a choice about what kind of activity they want to engage in (solo, group work, etc.)
- Try to seek input from your students regarding the assessment design (for example, let them choose the final product)
- Make periodic check-ins to maintain the pace of delivery
By allowing your students to make decisions on their own, you create a sense of ownership for them. They no longer feel like they’re just passive learners. They will feel like they’re more in control of their learning process, and they will be more motivated to engage in classes.
5- Use mixed media
To make the class itself more engaging and fun to listen to, you can use a blend of different media platforms. You can use various video and audio materials as well as a wide range of digital resources to make your class more interactive. Instead of relying on just one learning material, diversify your resources and make your classes more interactive.
You can also use various online quiz makers to evaluate your students’ learning process from time to time. This type of media platform is elementary to use, and it will help your students interact with one another in the process of learning. As a result, this will make your classes more dynamic and engaging.
6- Gamify your learning process
Games may actually be the most powerful tool for student engagement outside of class. The good news is that games and learning can be brought together in order to create overall better learning results as well as higher student engagement in class.
If you want to encourage your students to interact more during your classes, it’s best to find an effective gamification solution and utilize it in your learning process.
Plus, you don’t have to invest too much effort or even your time to make this happen. You don’t have to come up with your own rules, draw up game boards, or do anything else to gamify your learning.
All you need to do is find already-made gamified learning programs and let them do the rest of the work for you. There are online programs and apps you can install with multiple categories you can choose from. Just pick your curriculum and allow your students to have access to the program.
7- Encourage friendly competition
Speaking of games and learning, creating a competitive but friendly atmosphere amongst your students can also motivate them to do better in class.
With gamified apps and quizzes, your students will be encouraged to perform well and show their progress in learning. However, make sure to put the emphasis on the learning process instead of winning. You sould organize fun activities that everyone will enjoy participating in, but don’t put high stakes on the game. This can make the quizzes and games your students take way too competitive.
The emphasis is on friendly competition that will help your students get interested in the learning material and process.
8- Organize interactive presentations
Lectures don’t have to be all about you teaching and your students listening to what you have to say. As a matter of fact, if you want to help improve your students’ engagement during classes, you should avoid this kind of teaching format.
Instead, you should try out as many student engagement strategies as possible that will encourage your students to speak up and interact both with other students and you as their teacher.
One of those effective strategies also includes organizing interactive presentations. You can incorporate this method when you’re teaching, but you can also encourage students to make their own presentations too.
The key point here is to make the presentation interactive. That way, the presenter is not the only one speaking during the presentation. The one presenting should ask additional questions to the other students, make a quiz, ask students to give their examples, and so on.
That way, everyone will feel involved in the presentation, learn something new, as well as offer the knowledge they have on the topic.
9- Take regular brain breaks
Keeping your students’ attention for a longer period of time is quite challenging. Even with a longer attention span, our brains need time to rest before continuing the new lessons.
For that reason, if you want to improve your student engagement during classes, you need to give them regular breaks. Remember that taking a break is just as productive as learning.
Physical activity is also a great way for us to recharge our energy and get back to studying. So, make sure to encourage your students to take a walk or stretch a bit while they’re taking a break. This will help them get back to learning fresh and ready to engage in discussions and interact with other students.
10- Be flexible
Lastly, of all the student engagement strategies, the most simple yet most effective one has to be the flexibility you, as a teacher, need to possess. While teaching does come with a certain schedule, curriculum, and lesson plans you need to follow, you also need to be flexible.
You need to be able to adapt to unpredictable changes every day. For instance, your students may be interactive most days. However, they may also have days when they feel tired or it’s simply not their best day. Maybe it’s the bad weather or some other external factors that can affect their performance in class.
On those days, learn how to slow down and allow students to do the best they can when they’re feeling down and tired. Learn how to read the room and adapt your approach to teaching based on how the students are feeling that day.
Additional ideas for online learning
In addition to previous strategies, here are a few additional ideas you can implement when teaching your classes online:
- Organize a fun short online course on a specific topic your students would like to hear more about
- Group your students into separate Zoom rooms to allow them to discuss different topics and do group projects together
- Provide diverse learning materials and resources where your students can self-evaluate their progress
- Organize a mock exam online that you can do together via Zoom or Google Meet
- Build an online community where you’ll teach your courses and keep your students informed about any changes in classes, materials, and so on
In order to make your online classes interactive and engaging, you can utilize all of the above strategies in one place.
With the help of Learnyst’s Platform CTA, you can keep all of your courses, learning materials, and mock exams in one place. This makes the online learning process so much more convenient. Also, it’s super easy to use, and all of your students will find it quite interesting and easy to interact and engage in your online courses.
Create enjoyable learning experiences
Overall, learning experiences are much better once we enjoy coming to classes and interacting both with other students and our teachers. As a teacher, it’s your biggest responsibility to create an atmosphere where students feel encouraged to speak up and engage in conversation.
The above-written student engagement strategies are just some of the most effective approaches you can take to motivate and encourage your students during classes, no matter where you teach, in person or online.