Student engagement is one of the biggest challenges in modern higher education. A plethora of distractions and hurdles affect students at a concerning rate, leading to lower engagement with the courses and, what is the ultimate consequence, higher dropout rates.
Colleges and universities that are committed to overcoming such challenges are devising student engagement strategies that are effectively favoring the experience for both students and instructors.
Some student engagement strategies are straightforward while others may take more effort in their implementation and maintenance. Either way, the benefit is valuable enough for higher education institutions to test them out and see what works best for their students.
Let’s review some of the student engagement strategies to consider in 2022.
Ensure Digital and Real-Life Collaboration Among Students and Teachers
Real, value-producing engagement is not possible until students are able to connect and interact with the academic content, with teachers, and with other students. The opportunities for peer review and analysis are only available for the students if the necessary systems are in place.
In this case, both digital and real-life mechanisms are equally important. While technology goes a long way for students to connect and collaborate, the possibility of connecting in real life and having face-to-face discussions on course materials and other matters related to academic life will positively affect student engagement.
Keep an Open Line of Communication Between the Students and the Institution
Synchronous and asynchronous options of communication must be available for students. Neglecting attention can have a negative impact on student engagement as abandonment and apparent neglect often transforms into apathy.
Being available for students to present their doubts and concerns is of vital importance as it makes them feel heard and as an integral part of the academic institution, not simply “clients”.
Technology can help with this without increasing the workload for the staff. Products such as Edular ease the communication process, keeping multiple lines of communication between students, staff, and instructors. The platform accommodates everyone in such a way that conversations can take place in different formats without clashing with anyone’s schedule.
Increased Student Services Availability with Automation
The challenge with Student Services is that they consume a considerable amount of resources. So expanding these capabilities even further is a decision not to be taken lightly.
Fortunately, the latest developments in automation are now available in the higher education space. With the assistance of Edular, there is a wide range of processes and workflows in Student Services that can be automated in a cost-effective fashion, including the monitoring of attendance and grades in order to intervene for greater academic success, live updates for admissions and financial aid applications, push notifications that alert students on timely matters, and more.
Improved Student Services translate into a greater academic experience for students in general. This satisfaction can help an institution to overturn its student engagement issues.
Work on Student Well-Being
In the last few years, there has been an increased interest in developing and implementing well-being policies that help higher education students with the mental challenges imposed by both their personal and academic lives.
As we wrote before, colleges and universities need well-being policies to enhance student learning and life experience. Consider it a new essential part of Student Services that cannot be missed at your campus. Doing this will have a deep, meaningful impact on the student’s happiness, satisfaction, and performance.
When it comes to student engagement strategies in 2022, few can beat this one in effectiveness and value. Some ways to accomplish it are:
- Having multiple lines of communication open between students and staff (something addressed in more detail below).
- Use opinion surveys, representatives, parliaments, in-class feedback, and consultations or focus groups to provide opportunities to every student inside the class.
- Find many opportunities to talk about well-being with your students (nutrition, and exercise, among other similar themes).
- Integrate intercultural understanding into different extracurricular activities and help everyone become more open and emphatic about human rights and religious differences.
- Teach student-led conflict management like peer mediation and restorative justice.
- Contribute to a positive classroom climate through cooperative, student-centered, self-organized, or even outdoor learning.
Make Technologies Convenient and Easy to Adopt
The necessary and highly beneficial move towards more digital experiences in higher education must not be cumbersome. The priority is on reducing the learning curve and the complexities of technical implementation that end up undermining the students’ efforts and results.
All classrooms are using technology in different degrees to enhance the student experience and allow deeper interaction with course materials and among students. However, it can be detrimental to neglect the protocols of implementation and habitual use of the tools that empower such digital-driven methodologies.
The institution must, with the help of savvy students if possible, design protocols that allow both students and teachers to quickly implement and effectively use the teaching and learning technologies available. Any avoidable complexities in their use will directly challenge student engagement.
Guarantee that Courses are Challenging Enough
Course materials must be challenging enough for the student to remain interested and engaged with the learning process. Instructors, of course, play a big part here: they must facilitate that the course’s contents are being engaged by students with responsibility, effort, and awareness.
Linked to the challenge of every course, we must mention the attendance factor. Putting gravity on attendance and making students aware of it may change for the better the nature of the academic experience (Edular can help with this), demanding effort and transforming what could be a boring journey into a real yet healthy challenge.
Flip the Classroom
Previously we wrote an article on flipping the classroom, referring to the recent methodologies of having a hybrid educational experience.
The need imposed by COVID-19 recently became a matter of preference as colleges and universities are currently free to return to the traditional way to operate and teach. However, based on the results, many higher education institutions are conducting reviews and reframing how academic life should look.
Hybrid classrooms present a considerable opportunity. While it will not apply to every single course, it can be of benefit to many institutions that are not using it. Indeed, flipping the classroom could be, depending on each case, a powerful student engagement strategy to try, as students may feel more satisfied with the experience.
In either case, a key element of the hybrid classroom should be present in your institution: making sure that both essential and supplemental learning materials are always available and easy to access.
There are many student engagement strategies that your institution should be considering. Especially for new students, being on top of our game will allow us to provide a better experience and boost engagement up to graduation. Many of these strategies are especially important for what is known as FYE (First-Year-Experience), something we will address in greater detail in a different article.
Don’t be afraid of experimenting with different strategies and seeing what is and isn’t working. However, it is this experimenting process the only safe option for your institution to continue improving students’ experience and set them up for success.