Engaging Students In The Classroom

Golden Rules for Engaging Students in Learning Activities

Students’ engagement in learning activities is often thought of in terms of good behaviour (i.e., behavioural engagement), positive feelings (i.e., emotional engagement), and, above all, student thinking (i.e., cognitive engagement) when it comes to understanding student engagement in learning activities (Fredricks, 2014). In this case, students may become behaviorally or emotionally invested in a given activity without actually exerting the necessary mental effort to comprehend and master the knowledge, craft, or skill that the activity promotes. This is because students may become behaviorally and/or emotionally invested in a given activity without actually exerting the necessary mental effort to comprehend and master the knowledge, craft, or skill that the activity promotes.

Following this line of reasoning, research suggests that taking into account the following interconnected elements when designing and implementing learning activities may help increase student engagement on multiple levels, including behavioural, emotional, and cognitive engagement, thereby positively affecting student learning and achievement.


When attempting to achieve full involvement, students must believe that the activities they participate in are significant. According to research, if students do not believe a learning activity to be worthwhile of their time and effort, they may not engage acceptably, or they may even disengage totally in reaction to the activity (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). Students’ prior knowledge and experiences can be linked to tasks to make them more personally meaningful. This highlights the importance of an assigned activity in a way that is relevant to the students’ lives. Additionally, adult or expert modelling can assist in demonstrating why a particular activity is worthwhile to pursue, as well as when and how it is employed in real life.


• Encourage a sense of personal accomplishment and competence.
When it comes to competence, it can be defined as a student’s ongoing personal assessment of his or her ability to succeed in a learning task or challenge. (Is it possible for me to do this?) It has been discovered by researchers that completing an activity can have a favourable impact on subsequent participation (Schunk & Mullen, 2012). The following exercises could be assigned to students to increase their sense of competence in learning activities:

Be only marginally more difficult than pupils’ existing levels of competency
Students should be expected to exhibit understanding during the entire task.
Display peer coping models (i.e., students who struggle but eventually succeed at the activity) and peer mastery models (i.e., students who struggle but eventually achieve at the activity) (i.e. students who try and succeed at the activity)
Include feedback that will aid pupils in their development.


To put it another way, autonomy support can be thought of as fostering the students’ sense of control over their behaviours and goals. Student involvement levels are likely to rise as a result of teachers relinquishing authority (without losing power) to the students, rather than emphasising compliance with orders and commands (Reeve, Jang, Carrell, Jeon, & Barch, 2004). The following are examples of how autonomy support can be implemented:

Students’ comments and ideas should be welcomed and incorporated into the flow of the activity
When communicating with students, use factual, non-controlling language.
Allowing pupils the time they require to comprehend and absorb an activity on their own


Collaborative learning is yet another effective tool for increasing student participation in learning activities. Wentzel (2009) suggests that when students collaborate well, their engagement may be increased as a result. This is largely due to students feeling a sense of connection to others while participating in the activities (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Strategies can be implemented to ensure that students understand how to communicate and behave in a group setting to increase the productivity of group work. To promote collaborative learning, one effective method is teacher modelling (i.e., the teacher demonstrates how collaboration is done). Other effective methods include avoiding homogeneous groups and grouping students according to ability, fostering individual accountability by assigning different roles, and evaluating both individual and group performance.


Another important aspect in determining student engagement is the quality of the teacher-student connections, which is especially important in the case of challenging students and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds (Fredricks, 2014). When kids create personal and compassionate relationships with their teachers, they are meeting a developmental need for a sense of connection with others and a sense of belonging in society, according to research (Scales, 1991). The following factors can help to improve teacher-student relationships:

Taking an interest in the social and emotional needs of students
Having upbeat and enthusiastic attitudes and behaviours
increasing the amount of one-on-one time spent with kids
Students should be treated fairly.
Keeping promises and avoiding dishonesty is important.


Finally, the students’ perceptions of learning activities influence their level of participation in those activities. It is more likely that students will engage fully and thoroughly in an activity when they pursue it because they want to learn and understand (i.e. mastery orientations), rather than because they want to get a good grade, look smart, please their parents, or outperform peers (i.e. performance orientations) (Anderman & Patrick, 2012). Consider many techniques to encourage this mastery-oriented attitude, such as framing success in terms of learning (e.g., criterion-referenced) rather than performance (e.g., criterion-referenced) (e.g. obtaining a good grade). By eliminating social comparison (e.g., by making grades private) and acknowledging student development and effort, you can also place a greater emphasis on individual progress.

Anderman, E. M., and Patrick, H. (in press) (2012). The philosophy of achievement goals, the conceptualization of ability/intelligence, and the environment of the classroom are all discussed. Handbook of Research on Student Engagement, edited by S. Christenson, A. Reschly, and C. Wylie, is available online (pp. 173-191). Springer Publishing Company, New York, NY.

Deci, E. L., and Ryan, R. M. (in press) (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal-seeking are as follows: human needs and the ability to make decisions for oneself. 227–268 in Psychological Inquiry, vol. 11, no. 4.

J. A. Fredricks, et al (2014). Eight Myths of Student Disengagement: Creating Deep Learning Environments in the Classroom Corwin Press, based in Los Angeles.

J. A. Fredricks, P. C. Blumenfeld, and A. H. Paris have published a paper in which they argue that (2004). School engagement: The potential of the notion, as well as the current state of the evidence The Review of Educational Research, vol. 74, no. 1, pp. 59-109.

In J. Reeve and H. Jang’s paper, D. Carrell and S. Jeon’s paper, J. Reeve and J. Barch published a paper entitled (2004). Increasing autonomy support for teachers has been shown to increase student engagement. Motivation and Emotion, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 147-169.

P. C. Scales & Associates, Inc. (1991). Developing a developmental framework: The wonderful possibilities that early adolescents have to offer. When it comes to encouraging healthy growth and development, A Portrait of Young Adolescents in the 1990s: Implications for Promoting Healthy Growth and Development ERIC.

Schunk, D. H., and Mullen, C. A. (in press) (2012). As an engaged student, you have a sense of self-efficacy. Handbook of research on student engagement, edited by S. Christenson, A. Reschly, and C. Wylie, is available online (pp. 219-235). Springer US is based in Boston, Massachusetts.

K. R. Wentzel et al (2009). Peers and academic performance at a secondary school Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (K. Rubin, W. Bukowski, and B. Laursen, eds.). New York: Springer-Verlag. The development of social, emotional, and personality skills within a context (pp. 531-547). The Guilford Press, New York, New York.