Building Student Engagement In Today’s Evolving Classroom

ByMaslina Mohamad Nasir

With schools in session, educators are back to using various methods to seamlessly combine physical classes with online sessions in classrooms. This not only benefits educators in improving the use of digital technology in schools, but it also allows students to have a better learning experience and prepare them for the digital workforce. With that, it is a known fact that hybrid learning is here to stay and will continue to feature in our future.  

While the initial shift to online learning presented many challenges, Lenovo and Microsoft’s 2021 Education Technology Study also revealed opportunities for technology to better engage students and support learning through new subscription models, smarter devices and collaboration tools. At the heart of this is engaging students across various levels and ensuring that every student has the drive and resources needed to participate, learn, work effectively, and achieve their potential at school. Hence, student engagement is key, as it plays a huge role in determining student success in both the short and long term.   

The correlation between student motivation and engagement

Dr Andrew Martin, a researcher and Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of New South Wales developed the Student Motivation and Engagement Wheel to visualize the types of behaviors and engagement that indicate if a student is engaged or disengaged.

Students with positive motivations like self-belief, learning focus, and valuing their education are more likely to positively engage in their work through persistence, planning and task management. However, students with negative motivations, such as anxiety, failure avoidance, and a low sense of control are more likely to display negative behaviors like self-sabotage, and ultimately, disengagement.

It stands to reason that if we want to keep students engaged in their learning, we must find ways to address their motivations and behaviors, regardless of where they are learning from.

Classroom management techniques to keep students engaged

As schools reopen, education technology will be most effective when it complements, instead of substitutes, the work of educators. Classroom Management Software, like Lenovo’s LanSchool, is designed to address the challenges of the hybrid learning evolution. Extending teachers’ capabilities and oversight in the digital space, it gives teachers new opportunities to expand students’ learning experiences in a guided and thoughtful way.

There are a few ways to keep students engaged by fostering positive reasons for them to participate and reducing their negative motivations.

1. Make students feel they are in control

Feeling a lack of control over their own lives or learning experiences can be demotivating for students. There are several ways to give students a greater sense of control, such as using screen broadcasting tools to have students present part of a lesson, offering extra credit projects to complete in their own time, or letting students choose between two lessons or assignments.   

Another aspect of student control is engendering the belief that, if they work hard, they can achieve good results. When students are having difficulty mastering a subject, it’s important to help them note and celebrate the small victories along the way. Teachers can encourage weaker students on a one-to-one basis, which can also be done in the online classroom through direct messaging.

2. Create open lines of communication

Teachers can encourage learning focus by monitoring student comprehension and progress during assignments. Screen monitoring capabilities are especially useful in identifying early finishers – and discreetly assigning follow-up work to keep them engaged and discourage them from distracting other students.

For weaker or shy students who are uncomfortable participating in lessons or asking questions in a larger classroom setting, direct messaging provides a real-time, direct line of communication where kids can “speak up” without fear of judgement from their classmates to get clarity on the assignment and receive help on their questions.

3. Check in with students individually to foster self-belief

Students gain their self-confidence — or lack thereof — first from the adults around them. It’s great to praise students in front of the class, but it’s equally important to have one-on-one chats with students about their individual strengths and how those strengths contribute to their growth and success. This is especially crucial in virtual classrooms, as 46% of students identified a lack of immediate feedback from teachers as one of the biggest challenges of online learning, according to Lenovo’s study.  

Some students may not receive this kind of encouragement at home, and in these stressful times, it’s more important than ever for them to internalize positive feedback.

Finding the balance

The benefits of using technology in the classroom extend beyond the scholastic lessons that students learn. 1:1 programs are training students to become resourceful digital natives, who will be comfortable using computers and technology in their future careers. 

Without classroom management techniques and software providing the necessary level of oversight and transparency, technology can become a hindrance to teaching. With the appropriate tools in place, it can support teaching in ways prior generations may have never conceived possible. The balance lies in combining the right practices with the right software.

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