How do we measure student engagment?

Wordle: Student engagement What does student engagement in a classroom look like? How do you know that a student is engaged in learning?

We often hear that students or engaged in learning, classes are engaged in learning, that a particular task is engaging or that particular strategies such as games based learning or project based learning are engaging but how do you know they are engage students in learning?

 Some have argued that engagment is one of the most misused term in education. There is a difference between a student being on task and in task. A student who is on task may not be engaged they are “doing” the task but they may be cognitively disconnected from the task and not emotional commected to the task.

To be explicit I will follow the definition used in the Fair Go project   that suggests student engagement operates at three levels:

  • cognititive – thinking (head)
  • affective – feeling (heat)
  • operative – doing (hands)

So how do you know if a student is engaged (in task) that is they have their engaged their head, heart and hands in the task? Is engagement too difficult to measure within a classroom?

Do measures of enagement include:

  • the number of questions a students asks? Especially those the teacher does not know the answer?
  • the time the student spends on the task outside normal classroom times?
  • the discussions on the topic?

What are your measures of student engagement in the classroom?

2 thoughts on “How do we measure student engagment?

  1. I also think that engagement is a commonly misused and misunderstood term in education. There are many teachers that define engagement as fun. If students are having fun then they are engaged. While it’s important for students to enjoy learning there is a big difference between ‘just having fun’ and being cognitively engaged, or ‘in task’. I recently saw an activity where students were definitely having fun, but no real learning was occurring. Some would define this as engagement, but it really isn’t.

    A lot of the times student engagement is measured by attendance. If a student increases their attendance at school, it is an indicator that particular programs put in place have been successful in increasing student engagement. IMHO engagement is really difficult to measure. Different students will engage in learning in different ways. Some are more talkative and outgoing than others. In the end, it’s like many things in education. As a teacher, you need to know your students and talk to your students. Most of the time a student can tell you whether they have engaged or were in-task.

  2. Total agree Alice especially about engagement being very hard to measure. But is important we develop a good measure to move the educational discussion away from a narrow testing regime to something that is important eg student engagement. Talking with students is a good step – student voice plays an important role in so many aspects of education especially engagement for example it helps teacher develop learning experiences that interest each student and can engage them on a congitative and emotional level.

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