Melinda Doty is a university-level Department of Technology Systems faculty member.
Our society has become captivated by the vast amount of ways to be entertained in recent years. This especially holds true for our students. The old days of simply putting a PowerPoint presentation on the screen accompanied by a lecture is no longer an adequate way to reach our students and keep them engaged. Instructors must constantly find new ways to convey the material in a way that’s engaging. Thankfully, with the increasing need to promote student engagement, instructors discover new tools all the time. Many of these engagement tools can be implemented in all course delivery methods, including face-to-face, HyFlex and asynchronous courses. Here are some engagement strategies that I have implemented to increase student interaction in all my classes.
Active and Collaborative Learning
An effective method to gain and keep students’ interest is to incorporate collaborative and active learning techniques into your course. Collaborating with your students during your HyFlex or in-person lecture helps to draw their attention into the lesson and allows them to actively engage with you and the course material. A few simple ways to integrate these techniques include:
- Allowing an open or group discussion about a lecture-related topic
- Creating small groups to encourage peer-to-peer interaction
- Giving low-stakes assignments during the lecture and/or discussion to motivate the student to pay closer attention to the material being taught
You can weigh these collaborative assignments lightly but still count them for a grade to ensure the student participates in the activity. I recently implemented such a process one day a week into my HyFlex and in-person classes. We review the material as a class and play a quick quiz game to reinforce what they learned the past week. These “quiz games” count as a participation grade and the top three winners receive extra points on another assignment. Students have stated they enjoy the “fun” quizzes and look forward to them weekly.
In addition to active and collaborative learning, I’ve also incorporated experiential learning into all my classes. I require students to complete an assignment while I am lecturing (either live or on recorded video). This flipped classroom methodology allows the students to learn while doing. I have found the students retain the information more when they are working while I am teaching. This technique may not fit all course types, but you can tweak most courses to incorporate some type of experiential learning.
Student Engagement Strategies and Tools
Other ways to encourage student engagement is to add a few new tools to your “toolbox.” Having taught HyFlex or completely online all last year due to the pandemic, I had to think outside the “toolbox” and bring in some assistance in the form of new engagement tools. A quick Google search will turn up a plethora of tools for you to use in your class. A few of my favorites include: video conference breakout rooms, Kahoot, Flipgrid and Google or Microsoft Forms. A new tool for recorded videos provides the ability to add questions during the recording so students must answer prior to moving forward, allowing for the perfect low-stakes assignment in any course format. Each of these engagement tools encourages an interactive and dynamic classroom collaboration in all delivery methods.
Like it or not, the pandemic has changed how we teach. We must find ways to encourage our students to become engaged in their coursework. Applying some of these techniques should help your students become more engaged no matter what delivery method you use.
Watch this session from our Fall Empowered Educator Online Conference to learn more about engaging students in any course format.
Looking for more tips on engaging students with your course material? Download The Student Engagement Handbook to read five peer-tested exercises to try in your course.