14 Types of Engagement

One of the best ways to increase students’ intrinsic motivation is to make them an active part of the learning process. Students need to be able to engage with material to turn it into something that they care about. They need to practice the skills of the discipline in order to see the value of that discipline. The time and effort they put into engaging with the central themes of your course will increase their satisfaction and make them persistent when they encounter problems and roadblocks. You might even find that they achieve higher grades, even though they aren’t driven to do so. So, as you plan your course, engagement needs to be front and centre. Even in a totally self-paced course, students are motivated by interaction. They need to engage actively with what they learn and have ample opportunities for social interaction. There are three types of engagement to think about when planning your course: student-to-course, instructor-to-student, and student-to-student.


Student to Course Engagement is focused on the student’s engagement with the material and activities themselves. This is primarily the way that students engage with material and activities on their own time, both within the classroom and outside of it. 

Instructor to Student Engagement is focused on the student’s engagement with you as the instructor. These are the ways that the student sees you as participating in the learning process. It includes all of the ways you are visible in synchronous and asynchronous spaces. 

Student to Student Engagement is focused on the student’s engagement with their peers. These are activities that allow your students to think and work collaboratively. It includes all conversations and group work, formal and informal, that takes place between the students in your course. 

Take a look at the engagement indicators and best practices compiled by the National Survey of Student EngagementPage 2 is the most important!


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